The mole spends most of its life below ground, and you are more likely to see their distinctive molehills than the animal itself. Moles are small animals with greyish-black velvety fur. They have no ears and very small eyes that are sometimes covered by fur. Moles are identifiable by their characteristic hairless pink snout that protrudes a few centimetres from their face, and their oversized spade-shaped forelimbs with large claws for digging.
Moles are solitary animals and occupy their own territories. They spend most of the time below ground digging tunnels. Many mole tunnel systems are permanent and used by generations of moles, while others are temporary, such as in the surface of a recently planted field. Their distribution is directly related to the abundance of earthworms in an area. They prefer wetter soils, near streams for example, and are often found in woodland because there is a greater abundance of prey.
Moles must eat over 50% of their body weight each day to avoid starvation. Their primary source of food is earthworms, though they also eat insect larvae and occasionally small reptiles and mice. Moles have a toxin in their saliva that they use to paralyze earthworms by biting the head segment. They store the paralyzed earthworms in underground larders, which can have hundreds of worms in them at a time.
- Length: 11-16cm plus a 2.5-4cm tail
- Weight: 72-128g
Moles do not have specific legal protection in Scotland. They are protected from unnecessary harm by the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996.
When to see
- Moles are not blind, however, their small eyes leave them reliant on their sense of smell and touch to navigate tunnels.
- Mole tunnels can reach up to 70m in length.
- Young moles begin to grow fur at two weeks old, and leave their mother to find their own territory at around five weeks old.