War of the Moles


We have been having moles for a long time now, but I find I don’t have to do anything about them because my next door neighbor goes after them with a vengeance.  She wants to be sure they don’t  come into her lawn.

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This is the latest one, it appear while she was on holiday.  Since she didn’t see it right away, the soil has dried a bit.  Usually they are a dark rich brown and certainly show up against the green lawn quite well.  She has been  digging down a bit, putting pellets down to kill them, then packing down the soil.  Sometimes they come up next to recent hole, so it looks like this:

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I noticed a couple of weeks ago by the drive were some tiny piles, as if the mamma was teaching her babies how to do it – some test holes to make sure they have the hang of it.  Over by the street there were some that were a bit larger, I think the teenagers were practicing their skills.  After all, what kind of parent doesn’t teacher their young the skills they will need for life.

There are times when I think the moles are oblivious to us humans, spending all that time underground makes the chances of encounters with humans slim to none.  Wonder if they come above ground when it’s dark.  To be honest, I don’t think I have ever seen a mole.  So I decided to look it up on Wikipedia and this is what I found.

Talpa_europaea_MHNT_Tete                                   Talpa_europaea_MHNT

I have to say, a mole is an odd-looking creature –  appealing and repelling at the same time.  This is what I learned about this little mammal:

Moles are small cylindrical mammals adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They have velvety fur; tiny or invisible ears and eyes;[clarification needed] relatively atrophied hindlimbs; and short, powerful forelimbs with large paws oriented for digging. The term is especially and most properly used for the true moles, those of the Talpidae family in the order Soricomorpha found in most parts of North America,[1] Asia, and Europe. It also refers to other completely unrelated mammals of Australia and southern Africawhich have also evolved the mole body plan; it is not commonly used for some talpids, such as desmans and shrew-moles, which do not fit the common definition of “mole”, as well.

I have to admit, I am intrigued by the “velvety fur”, but not enough to  come face to face with one and hold in my hand..

Now there have been times in the past when my Mom has said we had voles, so I check out Wikipedia again to see the difference.

vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter, hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars (high-crowned and with angular cusps instead of low-crowned and with rounded cusps). There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America. Vole species form the subfamily Arvicolinae with the lemmings and the muskrats.

images    voles

They are kind of cute and more a mouse while a mole is in the muskrat or shrew family.  However, as I read more about them, now they don’t seem so cute.

 They can have five to 10 litters per year.Gestation lasts for three weeks and the young voles reach sexual maturity in a month. As a result of this exponential growth, vole populations can grow very large within a very short period of time. Since litters average five to 10 young, a single pregnant vole can result in a hundred or more active voles in less than a year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo wonder they multiply so quickly!

Hmmm, maybe those little piles were voles and not baby moles.   However, reading a bit more , I learned something not too wonderful.

Voles will often eat succulent root systems and will burrow under plants or ground cover and eat away until the plant is dead. Bulbs in the ground are another favorite target for voles; their excellent burrowing and tunnelling give them access to sensitive areas without clear or early warning. The presence of large numbers of voles is often only identifiable after they have destroyed a number of plants. However, like other burrowing rodents, they also play beneficial roles, including dispersing nutrients throughout the upper soil layers.

Now we know why Mom’s yellow crocus didn’t come up after she planted them, no doubt some little burrowing animal enjoyed a lovely snack.  Now why didn’t the creature eat the purple and the lavender ones, they keep coming up every year – no yellow.  However, since our lawn is more dandelions than grass, I don’t get all hot and bothered about little piles of earth.  It’s my neighbor who gets agitated because she wants to keep them from coming over and do a number on their little square of lawn.  Actually, I find I find it rather entertaining.

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