Before we dig into some facts about moles, we candidly confess that we don't know every little detail about these underground menaces to mankind. After all, it's hard to watch their every move when they're camped out six inches under. Nevertheless, despite moles' mysterious ways, we have unearthed some truths about these maddening creatures and their subterranean lifestyle.
As most people know, moles are highly destructive critters, causing incomparable damage to lawns and gardens. They spend their days creating mounds and runways which disfigure and sometimes uproot plant life. Feeding mostly on earthworms, grubs and other small soil insects, moles live their entire lives beneath the surface of the ground. These burrowing animals are small, approximately five to eight inches long, with an average weight between three to five ounces. They have short, velvety gray to silver-gray fur. Noted for their greatly enlarged, webbed front feet with short claws, moles use them to tunnel rapidly through soil. Contrary to popular belief, moles actually do have eyes, though they are very small and concealed in fur.
Moles are not rodents; they belong to the group of mammals know as insectivores. There are seven different species of moles located throughout the United State, including the Eastern Mole, Star-Nosed Mole, Coast Mole, Townsend's Mole, Broad-footed Mole, Hairy-tailed Mole and Shrew Mole.
Though all moles live underground and rarely come to the surface, their habitats vary between species. Some moles, such as the Star-Nosed Mole, prefer moist areas like bogs and marshes. Others, including the Eastern Mole, seek out drier soil found in woodland areas, meadows and fields. Universally, however, all species look for soil that is easy to tunnel through and populated with earthworms, grubs and other small insects. Huge eaters, moles consume a staggering 70% to 100% of their body weight each day and are capable of digging up to 150 feet of tunnels per day in search of food.
Moles are active day and night year round; however they tend to be most active in the spring and fall. It is a myth that moles hibernate during the winter. The fact is moles are unable to store fat on their bodies, so during the cold winter months they follow their food source (earthworms) deep into the ground to stay warm and well-fed.
There are two basic types of mole tunnels, shallow and deep. Both types are created by moles as they actively search for food and both cause unsightly damage to landscapes. Shallow tunnels create surface runways that are recognizable by the areas of raised ground which appear as long ridges in the soil. Deep tunnels create surface mounds, characterized as volcano-shaped hills of soil between 2 and 24 inches tall. Moles frequently abandon and seldom reuse tunnels, preferring to dig new ones in their insatiable search for food.
When it comes to getting rid of moles in your yard, there is no magic silver bullet. You need to get involved in the process. Whether trapping, repelling or baiting, you may need to try a variety of mole control methods before finding the right weapon to best control lawn moles. But don't despair. With patience, you can successfully eradicate moles and return your lawn to its rightful suburban beauty.
Sandy: I want you to kill every gopher on the course!
In a sense, the 1980 hit comedy film, Caddyshack, earned gophers a gold star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It sealed the stamp on this burrowing animal's reputation as elusive, infuriating and seemingly impossible to control. Watching the movie, homeowners across America were jubilant as it dawned on them they weren't the only ones being driven to extremes to rid their landscapes of these destructive, subterranean varmints. Today, the movie still resonates loudly with homeowners whose lawns have been decimated by little brown furry gophers.
Gophers are small burrowing ranging in length from five to twelve inches and weighing in around eight ounces. Their flattened heads and large clawed front paws make them well suited for a life of digging and burrowing. Gophers have brownish soft fur, large cheek pouches which they use to transport food, and small eyes and ears. Their hairy tails, about four inches in length, are used to navigate when traveling backwards through their tunnels. The average life span of a gopher is two to three years.
Gophers are found throughout North America and are well adapted to their reclusive underground existence. Gophers spend their days burrowing in search of food, building intricate underground tunnel systems in soil that is soft and easy to dig through. As omnivores, their diet consists mainly of nuts, berries, grass, bulbs, leaves and insects.
Gophers are active year round; contrary to popular belief, they do not hibernate. However, they are more active in the spring and fall when the soil is moist and ideal for digging.
Gophers create mounds that not only damage homeowners' landscapes; they are often large enough to destroy underground utility cables, water lines and sprinkler systems. The number of gopher mounds created in one year may be as great as 300 per gopher, or up to 70 per month. Gopher mounds are crescent or horseshoe shaped with a plugged hole off to one side. Their burrow systems consist of a main burrow 6 to 12 inches below and parallel to the surface of the ground. The diameter of a burrow is typically about three inches but may vary with the size of the gopher.
There is no arguing that gophers are evasive, stealth underground critters. They can be sneaky and hard to get rid of. However, when it comes to getting rid of these destructive burrowing pests, the best methods of gopher control include the use of traps, baits and repellents.