Moles are a mammal that lives under the ground in a series of tunnels. These tunnels are dug by the mole. Digging by this species helps to aerate the soil and keeps the ground loose. Ever wonder how moles dig? These furry creatures make a motion much like swimming the breast stroke: on their bellies moving their front paws from the front of them to the sides.
Moles are very good at digging. They can dig up to 15 miles an hour. Moles are not part of the rodent family. They are actually insectivores, or eaters of insects. This makes them more related to the bat family. These creatures cam come in a variety of colors, from black, grey, orange, white and other colors.
THE BURROWS THEY DIG
You can find moles on every continent except Antarctica and South America. They aren’t picky about what kind of terrain they are under, with the exception of mountains and very acidic soils. Its in these places that you will find ridges in the soil, especially in the spring. These shallow tunnels are usually temporary, until deeper ones are cut. They remove excess soil by pushing the dirt out of the ground in mounds, and then plugging the hole. This is usually at the end of a run. Because that’s how moles dig.
Tunnels usually go from one “room” to another. These rooms have many purposes such as storing food, nesting and even birthing. Moles will stay underground during the day for protection, and come out at night to gather nesting materials. This is usually when they are made prey by a coyote or owl. The burrows that they dig are often inherited, and can house many generations of mole.
DIGGING FOR FOOD
The primary source for food is earthworms and other insects. Many people believe that moles damage plants by eating roots. This is simply not true. They have a paralyzing venom in their saliva that incapacitate the worms. They will also bite the heads off, and even squeeze the worm to remove any dirt in it. These are stored in rooms. Some sources say that there has been as many as 470 worms stored by a single mole in a single room.
Moles are very solitary animals. Three to five moles in a single acre is considered a lot. They have a unique adaptation in their hemoglobin that allows them to survive in high carbon dioxide and low oxygen levels under ground. Moles are also the only animal known that can smell in stereo. They can not only sense food sources through smell, but by using their left and right nostrils they can locate the food as well. These creatures need this, as their eye sight is limited. They are colorblind, and can only see light and movement.
BEHAVIORS AND OFFSPRING
The female mole will produce one litter of offspring a year. Males will enlarge their tunnel system until they find a female mole. Once they mate, a nesting room will be made with nesting materials gathered from above ground and put in the room. The litter is usually about three or four pups, born hairless. After two weeks, they begin to grow hair and are weened by four weeks. In weeks five and six, they leave the nest and go out on their own.