Fifteen Facts About Moles


Frustrated homeowners often spend years battling moles for control of their lawns and gardens. They use mole traps and poisons and sometimes literally resort to standing watch over mole hills with firearms waiting for any sign of movement in the mound. Before you make your own mountains out of mole hills, get moles under control by paying attention to these fifteen essential facts about moles and how to get rid of moles.

1. Moles are found almost everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere except Ireland and in arctic regions where the ground freezes solid in the winter.

If you live almost anywhere other than in the arctic or in Ireland in Europe, Asia, and North America, you may have moles. They are found everywhere except in permafrost and in the most severe desert conditions.

Moles in the Northern Hemisphere are known as true moles. There are also “golden moles” in South Africa that are capable of “swimming” through sand that mostly live in desert areas, and there are blind marsupial moles in Australia that are more closely related to kangaroos. The ant-eating pink fairy armadillo or pichiciego of central Argentina bears some external resemblance to a mole but is not a true mole, and the tuco-tuco elsewhere in South America is actually a pocket gopher. The “moles” in the Southern Hemisphere usually do not infest lawns and gardens.

2. Moles are well adapted to underground life.

Male moles may travel above ground during early spring in search of mates, but most moles spend almost their entire lives underground. Moles have a unique form of hemoglobin that allows them to recycle oxygen. They are capable of living in tunnels where carbon dioxide accumulates to levels that would kill most mammals that live above-ground. A mole’s paw is a six-fingered “hand” with two thumbs that is perfectly adapted to digging dirt, the upper thumb covered with fur and extending from its wrist. Moles have poorly developed eyes and are often blind, but they have excellent hearing and extremely fast reflexes. The star-nosed mole can capture and eat its prey faster than the human eye can follow the action.

3. A mole’s diet consists mostly of earthworms.

Moles won’t eat your plants and bulbs. Moles are carnivores. (This means you should be careful with your fingers should you ever pick up a mole, if you don’t want your finger to be a dying mole’s last meal.) A mole’s saliva contains a toxin that can paralyze but not kill earthworms. Sometimes the mole eats the earthworm right away, and sometimes the mole stores the earthworm in a specially constructed burrow for later consumption.

Researchers have found tunnels filled with over a thousand earthworms in them. Before a mole eats an earthworm, it will pull the worm between its paws to extrude the collected soil from the worm’s gut. Moles also sometimes eat small mice and rats that wander into their tunnels.

4. Moles have voracious appetites.

The old saying that a mole eats ten times its weight in earthworms is not true. Actually, moles only eat 70 to 100% of their weight in earthworms each every day. A mole deprived of food may die of starvation in just a few hours.

5. In rare instances, moles may help transmit human diseases.

There are no infectious diseases that humans acquire directly from moles. Ticks that jump from moles to household pets and other wildlife and then to humans, however, sometimes transmit hantavirus or tick-born encephalitis. Moles can also be infested with kissing bugs that transmit Chagas disease. The viral infections are most common in temperate climates with cold winters. Chagas disease is most common in areas that do not see freezing weather during the winter (you can read about the symptoms at the The National Center for Biotechnology Information).

6. Moles do most of their damage by disturbing the soil.

Moles can become so numerous that the tailings of soil they remove from their burrows cover the ground and smother grass. They can disrupt lawn irrigation systems and bring stones to the surface of a lawn that can get caught in lawn mowers and weed eaters. They kill small plants by shifting the earth beneath them, and their tunnels expose the roots of trees and shrubs to attack by voles and weasels.

7. Moles are not entirely solitary creatures.

Moles will fight to the death to defend their territory, but they often do not live alone. A single square meter (about 10 square feet) of ground may be home to as many as a dozen moles during breeding season, in the early spring.

8. Moles are not nocturnal.

Moles are more active during quiet periods, when they do not hear people or animals moving around their burrows. Wildlife researchers have found that moles sleep in four-hour shifts throughout the day and night. They are most likely to be active in the early morning or just before sundown. Humans are most likely to notice evidence of mole activity in the early morning, but the mole is not primarily active at night.

9. Moles do not always make mole hills.

A large mound of dirt near the opening of a mole’s burrow is only an indication that the soil is soft and easy to dig. In harder soil, moles make smaller openings more frequently, leaving smaller piles of dirt around the “door” to the burrow.

10. Moles almost never come indoors.

Moles have an innate sense that the interior of a human home is a high-risk area. They almost never travel long distances over open, flat surfaces. It is highly unlikely that a mole will find its way into your house except during a flood. In North America, floods are most likely to bring out the star-nosed mole, which has 22 pinkish “tentacles” around its nose that allow it identify and eat small prey in as little as 1/10 of a second. The star-nosed mole is a good swimmer that usually survives floods. It can even feed on small fish and mollusks to supplement its diet.

11. Moles build their tunnels where food is and noise isn’t.

Young moles begin to stake out their territory in mid-summer, about two months after they are born. Since the mole feeds on earthworms, it will build its burrow where it finds earthworm castings. Since the mole depends on its ability to hear an earthworm falling out of the roof its tunnel or wriggling up through the floor of its tunnel to catch its prey, it will prefer quieter locations. Noises made by heavy machinery almost always drive moles away—but most homeowners can’t go out with a jackhammer every morning to keep their grounds mole-free.

12. Good garden soil is mole-friendly.

Just like garden plants, moles prefer loose soil that is neither too damp nor too dry. Wet and sticky soil is not desirable because it is too difficult for moles to dig their burrows. Dry soil is not desirable because it has fewer earthworms.

Moles adapt to a variety of weather conditions, but they prefer moderate temperatures. They prefer a soil pH of about 5.5, slightly acidic soil without too much peat or acidic compost. They prefer well-vegetated areas that protect them from predators as well as provide good habitat for worms and grubs.

13. In the southern half of the United States, lawns planted in Bermuda grass are likely to resist moles.

Moles are usually first recognized with criss-cross “superhighway” patterns appear on the lawn as tunnels severe the roots of grass. Because Bermuda grass puts out long stolons up to 2 meters (more than 6 feet) away from the individual shoots of grass across the surface of the ground, it is much more resistant to mole activity than other popular turf grasses.

14. Voles and moles are different creatures.

Voles are rodents, while moles are a different kind of mammal known as an insectivore. Voles often occupy tunnels made by moles, but they are an entirely different animal. Voles are also known as field mice or meadow mice. A vole is shorter and stouter than a house mouse. It has a stubbier tail, sharper teeth, and smaller eyes and ears than most mice. Unlike the mole, a vole is sighted, and also unlike the mole, it is an herbivore, feeding on the roots of shrubs and trees. Sometimes voles completely girdle the underground trunk of a plant, cutting off circulation from its roots and causing its slow death from the trunk up.

15. Everything about moles in the garden is not bad.

Moles actually can be beneficial in the garden when they are present in small numbers. Moles kill grubs that kill grass and young shrubs. For the mole, a white grub is usually just an appetizer to the main course of earthworms, but one study found that about 2/3 of moles eat at least some white grubs. In the course of its lifetime, a mole may consume as many as 200 grubs.

Moles also help with soil maintenance. Their digging aerates the soil, and carries humus deeper into the earth. They carry mineral-rich subsoil up to the surface, making it more available to plants. In extremely dry climates, their tunnels capture rainfall and impound it where it does not quickly evaporate. If you have moles that aren’t killing desirable plants or causing eyesores, you may decide to live and let live. Learn more about the different types of pest control products here.


Mark has a strong background in Engineering and a huge interest in Pest Control as a way of getting rid of rodents and other unwanted pests who can cause a nuisance in your home and garden. You can subscribe to his free daily paper on Pest Control Solutions and follow him on Facebook or Twitter

View Comments

  • I have tried several things to get rid of the moles. I have Bermuda grass. They are digging tunnels everywhere. I've heard they like grub worms. If I get rid of the grub worms, will the moles go to my neighbors yard? What is a good chemical to get rid of the moles and grub worms.

  • Well I didn't know we had moles, until yesterday. I deweeding the garden and pulled out most of the fava beans.the next morning I found a died mole on the pavement, the cat must of gotten it. I actually feel horrible about this little guy dieing because I was unaware of there existence in my garden.if I had known they were around I wouldn't have been so eager to pull out the weeds.

  • After seeing couple piles of dirt in our garden in 2019, I hired a mole removal company to start his job as of November 2019. He claimed to be the best in industry and famous for his quick results, but yet expensive. We though since he knows his job, paying a bit more wouldn't hurt. He offered a bundle package which included traps setup and catching up to 3 moles. He would charge $100 per mole, and additional $40 per visit thereafter. He also came to visit the traps every 2-3 weeks. Couple weeks after setting up the traps, he emailed me with the video of catching 2 moles. We got excited, and he suggested to come back for another visit. Couple weeks later, he caught 2 more moles, and this continued till February 20th. So, in total, he claimed and proved by his videos that he caught 10 moles within the matter of few months. Since his service charges is based on per mole/per visit. Do you think we might have been scammed/ripped off? My friend advised that this guy probably transfer and recycle moles from other's lawns to next customer's lawn in order to make more money....Now he sent me a bill of $1200...Not too sure what to believe in :(

    • It does sound very expensive, I wouldn’t be happy paying that amount of money. Once you have learned how to set a trap, it doesn’t take that long to do so I would inclined to either do it myself or find somebody who wants to work for a couple of hours on a Saturday.

  • I live just outside Charleston, S C. In the past month I have discovered 2 dead moles in my pool skimmer. Is this unusual? Never had them in my pool before. I have an in ground pool. I was having a problem with moles tearing up my lawn and my lawn service did a three part program that got rid of them. Haven’t seen any sign of them in my yard in over a year.

    • No it's not unusual to find dead moles in your pool. It's seems to be just one of those things that happens from time to time.

  • Very informative. My cat kills these little guys. We thought they only come out at night,but I guess keeping the cat in at night is not going to help. We want the opposite of most people, we want them NOT to die.

    • Yes. Have a look around your property and search for mole activity. When you find it set traps. Speed is of the essence here. You don't to get overwhelmed by them.

  • How high can a mole climb? I plan to build 12” high raised garden beds. I’ll place 1/2” hardware under beds.

  • Hi Mark,

    What are your thoughts on pumping carbon monoxide into mole runs/dens? The molecular weight seems appropriate.

    • It can work. Why don't you try it and let us know your results? Obviously take all the necessary health and safety precautions.

  • If necessary, can a mole mole move fast enough above ground to be indistinquishable to the human eye? By that, I mean could they run fast enough to be seen but appear only as, literally, a blur.

    • As a general rule, I would say no. However, it would depend on how good your eyesight is?


  • Hi Mark,
    We live in a mobile home and the home is not on a slab of cement. We are only tied down. Although the ground is flush to the surrounding metal skirting, I see raised tunnels going under our home. I hear running early in the mornings, and I would like to know if this is moles, voles. Do u hear them running? I actually lay in bed and I can hear running. I do not see any holes around our entire home, only tunnels such as what moles make. I put the mole pellets in their tunnnels but don't know if I am killing them. Would I hear them running?

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