When most people think of moles, they think of a small rodent pest that eats gardens and destroys landscapes. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Moles are insectivores, not rodents. They eat very little vegetation, and their daily activities are actually good for your yard and the environment.
Moles spend more than 90 percent of their time underground. Their front feet are huge and slightly webbed to help them excavate soil efficiently. Because they live underground, they are able to remain active during winter months. Thus, moles do not hibernate.
Moles are insectivores whose diet is largely made up of insect larvae (grubs), snails, slugs and worms. They are gluttons when it comes to eating, and consume more than 50 percent of their body weight in food each day.
Tunneling and Burrows
Moles make two kinds of tunnels. The tunnels that we see as ridges in our yards or landscape are temporary tunnels that are made as moles search for food. Once those tunnels are made, they are never used (by moles) again.
The second types of tunnels are the mole’s living and nesting quarters. They are deeper underground and are more permanent.
Why Moles Are Good for Your Yard
If you have a mole who has taken up residence in your yard, chances are it’s because there is a lot of food there for him to eat. That food is probably grubs, snails or slugs. All of these can wreak havoc on a lawn or garden by killing grass or destroying plants. Getting rid of them is difficult, and generally requires the use of poisonous insecticides that are very harmful to the environment. Moles eat all these pests, and do so at an impressively fast rate.
As excavators, moles also play an important role in the aeration and fertilization of soil. Aerated soil is important for growing both gardens and lawns. It allows for better drainage and provides a more productive growing environment. Moles provide this service in exchange for a free meal – the insect pests we want eradicated from our yards anyway. And because moles eat a minimum of 50 percent of their body weight each day, they also produce a lot of excrement, which is great fertilizer for yards and gardens.
What to Do if You Have a Mole in Your Yard
If you have a mole in your yard, the best thing to do is … nothing. Once he has depleted the food supply by eating all the insect pests, he will move on. If you want, you can stamp down the visible tunnels without doing any harm, since they are only temporary anyway and will never be reused.