Do you have brown humps of earth decorating your lawn? A mole can dig up to 20 metres of tunnel in a day using its spade-like forepaws to effectively breaststroke its way through the soil. Every now and again, loose soil is pushed up to the surface, resulting in what we see as a mole hill.
Moles spend their whole life burrowing underground with their spade like paws, hunting for earthworms to eat. The mole’s velvety coat helps it to move easily through the soil, and its mouth and nose are protected from debris by their down-facing position.
Moles have their babies in spring and there are normally 3-4 naked babies. They get fur around 14 days and then open their eyes around 22 days, their mums ween them off at 5 weeks and at just 33 days they start to leave the nest, this is done above ground and is when they are in great danger.
Unfortunately, Moles have no legal protection in the UK and are regarded as pests by farmers, horticulturists, and green keepers. They can disturb plant roots in fields, which wilt and die. Mole hills can cause damage to farm machinery too.
They used to be trapped in large numbers for their pelts but now they are just killed, which is normally done in a very cruel way.
Although moles are seen as pests, they can also help break up soil which makes the ground better for plants to grow in, this improves soil health and can increase plant diversity, however if it’s on your lovely green turf, I can see how pesky they can be.
They also help reduce the number of agricultural pests by eating underground grubs which would feed on the roots of crops. It is possible that the extensive network of tunnels they dig can improve soil drainage in some areas by preventing too much water building up on the surface. Moles can be beneficial to man, preying on many harmful insect larvae such as cockchafers and carrot fly, while tunnels help drain and aerate heavy soils.
Moles used to be commonly poisoned using strychnine. Death by strychnine poisoning is slow and agonising, and strychnine is highly dangerous to other wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. For these reasons it is now illegal to use strychnine for poisoning moles or any other animals.
Some people still resort to killing them, but there are other ways to remove moles humanly and perhaps even transport them to another location.
If you catch a female that may have babies in the nest, they could have a slow and painful death from starvation.
Any animal that is caught in a trap becomes a Protected Animal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, making it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering.
So, I ask you, are moles pests?