Mole

©Steve Bottom

Mole

Scientific name: Talpa europaea
The brown humps of earth that can decorate a lawn are the work of the mole. This stocky, brown mammal spends its life burrowing underground with its spade-like paws, hunting for earthworms to eat.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 15cm (plus a 4cm tail) Weight: 70-130g Average lifespan: 3-4 years

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

An unmistakable animal, the mole is stocky, with a wedge-shaped body and short tail. It spends almost all of its time underground, digging out tunnels with its spade-like front paws and hunting earthworms to eat. Moles are common and are often found in grassland and woodland edges.

Moles aerate and break up soil which makes the ground better for plants to grow in. This improves soil health and can increase plant diversity!

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.

How to identify

The mole is unmistakable. It is a stocky little animal, covered in black, velvety fur, with tiny eyes, a long, pink nose and two big, shovel-like 'hands' for front paws. You might be more likely to spot mole hills (the piled-up earth from their burrowing) than the moles themselves.

Distribution

Widespread, but absent from the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly, Scottish islands, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland.

Did you know?

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.

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.

How people can help

Tarmacking and increasing numbers of hard surfaced gardens mean that moles are being pushed out of their natural habitats. Why not help green up the grey by making your garden a home for wildlife

Thousands of birds, insects and other animals across England are finding it harder and harder to survive. Can you help create a Wilder Future for them?