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Feature Creature - Mole

Credits: Steve Bottom

Hidden, yet so very well known, this feature creature is all about the MOLE. These small, velvety mammals are insectivores (like shrews and hedgehogs) which means that they specialize in eating minibeasts. The infamous mounds they build on parks and lawns can make them unpopular with gardeners, but how and why do they do it?

Fantastic facts:

 

*Enemies: cats, birds of prey, stoats.              *Favourite foods: juicy earthworms.

 

*Names: males are boars, females are sows, babies are pups and a group is a labour.

 

*Super-powers: tunneling and strength.         *Latin name: Talpa europaea.

 

*Range: not found in Northern Ireland.            *Size: about 15cm long and 150 grams.

 

But what are these tiny tunnelers and what can they do? Moles are:

 

Earth movers

 

Moles spend almost their entire lives underground and are very difficult to see. They are common across lowland Britain, but often the only sign of their presence is the tell-tale mounds left during tunnel digging. Molehills are created as a mole pushes earth to the surface and are useful for marking the range of its territory.

 

Mole tunnels may be over 70m long. Using their powerful front claws, moles can move around 18kg of soil every hour. Not bad for an animal the size of a small guinea pig!

 

Hunters

 

Moles are particularly fond of earthworms - although they will also eat other invertebrates like slugs and insect larvae - and need to feed regularly every few hours. They can be so good at hunting for food that they may find more worms than they need. If this happens, they munch the head of the worm to prevent it escaping and store it in a special larder tunnel for hard times ahead.

 

 

Blind

 

 Moles don't need to have good eyesight. After all, they spend most of their time in complete darkness! They have many other highly tuned senses all over their body to make up for this and to help them navigate through their narrow tunnels.

 

Nick Baker tells us all about the amazing abilities of moles in this Wildlife Watch video: