Moles are closely related to shrews and hedgehogs. Many people think that moles are rodents, but in fact, they are mammals.
Moles have a muscly body which is covered in black velvety fur. They have a long, pointed nose and short upright tail. Their most distinguishing features are their tiny pin-head sized eyes, and their large shovel-like front feet, each of which has 5 strong claws.
Moles are only around 15cm (6 inches) long. They weigh approximately 120g – about the same as an apple!
Moles are seldom seen as they live most of their lives underground. They are industrious diggers and can create 20m of tunnel per day. They leave characteristic mounds of earth on the surface as they excavate their tunnels. Large chambers within the tunnel system are lined with dry grass and used for nesting during periods of rest. Moles feed mainly on earthworms, but they also eat a variety of other invertebrates, insect larvae, beetles and slugs. They inhabit deciduous woodland, grassland, farmland and domestic gardens wherever the soil is deep and rich enough for tunnelling. They are active day and night throughout the year.
Moles may cause damage in a range of situations. In gardens and amenity areas, molehills and tunnels can be a nuisance. In agriculture, contamination of grass by soil may lead to poor quality silage being produced. There is also a risk of damaging grass-cutting machinery. Mole runs may disturb roots and adversely affect plant growth. Molehills and tunnels can often be tolerated and control should only occur where necessary. Where control measures can be justified, there are two main methods, trapping or gassing with aluminium phosphide. West Oxon Pest Control Ltd is a qualified and authorised user of aluminium phosphide but recommends the use traditional trapping methods to control moles.