Common names: Common Mole, European Mole, Northern Mole
Depending on the area, male moles are called bucks or boars, female moles are called does or sows and young moles are called kits or pups.
The collective noun for moles is a labor.
The mole is an insectivore which lives off earthworms and small invertebrates and is adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They are found throughout Britain but not in Ireland.
The mole's tunnels are excellent worm traps. When the mole senses the worm is in the tunnel it will move rapidly to that area to eat the worm. Other times the mole will bite the head segment from the worm paralysing it. Then the worm is taken to a larder area in the run where it is stored for later consumption.
It has black velvety fur, tiny or invisible ears and eyes and short powerful limbs with large front paws bearing sharp claws orientated for digging. The thick velvety coat helps them move forwards and backwards through the soil.
They have poor eyesight, are light sensitive (but are not blind) and are extra sensitive to the slightest vibration.
They are about 15 cm long and use touch, hearing and smell to detect their prey.
They usually live for 3-6 years.
They are quite intelligent, anti-social and they eat every 4 hours. They eat two thirds of their own body weight every day.
The mole has a specialised bone and muscle construction which enables it to exert a digging force of 32 times its body weight making it an industrious digger. It can tunnel at 6 metres per hour and usually creates 20 to 30 metres of tunnels per day. The fore limbs are used to shear soil from the tunnel sides using alternate strokes. The hind limbs are used to brace the body against the tunnel walls. The mole turns around, scoops up the accumulated soil with the fore limbs and pushes it along a previously dug side tunnel to the surface. This forms the molehill. The tunnels are a complex system of permanent and semi-permanent tunnels. Permanent tunnels can be hundreds of metres long within which can be found spherical nesting chambers.
They live in woodland, grassland and farmland – wherever the soil is deep enough for tunnelling. Occasionally some tunnels are used by several moles and these are referred to as a highway.
They are active all year round but activity is greatest in the late winter and early spring.
Moles will come to the surface to collect nesting material or in times of drought to search for worms and also if it gets too wet and boggy and they have to leave the area. Young moles leaving their mothers searching for a suitable area to start their own tunnel system will come to the surface too.
In the breeding season, if moles meet, they fight fiercely, to the death unless one retreats.
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