MOLES

Moles are members of the mammal family Talpidae in the order Soricomorpha. Moles live underground and burrow holes. Some species are aquatic or semi-aquatic. Moles have cylindrical bodies covered in fur with small or covered eyes; the ears are generally not visible. They feed on small invertebrate animals living underground. Moles can be found in North America, Europe, Asia and the eastern seaboard of Australia. There are no moles native to Ireland however. Male moles are called boars; females are called sows. A group of moles is called a labour. Since at least the era of Early Modern English the mole was also known in the UK as a "moldywarp" or "moldywarpes" (plural).  

DIET 

  A mole's diet is primarily composed of earthworms and other small invertebrates. The mole will also occasionally catch small mice at the entrance to its burrow. Their saliva contains a toxin that will paralyse earthworms, allowing them to store their still living prey for later consumption. They have specially constructed larders for just this purpose; some such larders have been discovered with over a thousand earthworms in them. Before eating earthworms, moles pull them between their squeezed paws to force the collected earth and dirt out of the worm's gut.

EVOLUTION

The eyes of moles and of some burrowing rodents are rudimentary in size, and in some cases are quite covered by skin and fur. This state of the eyes is probably due to gradual reduction from disuse, but aided perhaps by natural selection. As frequent inflammation of the eyes must be injurious to any animal, and as eyes are certainly not necessary to animals having subterranean habits, a reduction in their size, with the adhesion of the eyelids and growth of fur over them, might in such case be an advantage; and if so, natural selection would aid the effects of disuse.  

PEST STATUS 

  Moles are considered to be an agricultural pest in some countries, while in others, such as Germany, they are a protected species but may be killed if a permit is received. Problems cited as caused by moles include contamination of silage with soil particles making it unpalatable to animals, the covering of pasture with fresh soil reducing its size and yield, damage to agricultural machinery by the exposure of stones, damage to young plants through disturbance of the soil, weed invasion of pasture through exposure of fresh tilled soil, and damage to drainage systems and watercourses. Other species such as weasels and voles may use mole tunnels to gain access to enclosed areas or plant roots. Moles burrow in lawns, raising molehills, and killing the lawn, for which they are sometimes considered pests. They can undermine plant roots, indirectly causing damage or death. Contrary to popular belief, moles don't eat plant roots. They are controlled with traps, smoke bombs, and poisons such as calcium carbide and strychnine. Other common remedies for moles include cat litter and blood meal, to repel the mole, or flooding or smoking its burrow. There are also devices sold to trap the mole in its burrow, when one sees the "mole hill" moving and therefore knows where the animal is, and then stabbing it. Other, "humane" traps are used to capture the mole so that it may be transported elsewhere.