Moles are a family of mammals. Only the European mole lives in Europe. There are other species in Asia and North America. They are about 6 to 22 centimeters tall and have velvety soft fur. Moles live underground most of the time. They therefore only need small eyes and can hardly see. Their front feet look like shovels. They use them to dig tunnels under the earth and push the earth outwards.
Moles are very rarely seen. Usually, you only see the molehills on the meadows. But you can be wrong about that. There are also certain types of mice that leave very similar mounds, such as the water vole.
The term “mole” has nothing to do with the animal’s mouth: it comes from the old word “gauze” for a type of soil. Mole can therefore be translated as “earth thrower”. In Europe, they are strictly protected.
How do moles live?
Moles feed on earthworms and annelids, insects and their larvae, and occasionally small vertebrates. You can track them down with your little trunk nose. Sometimes they also eat plants, especially their roots.
Moles are solitary, so they don’t live in groups. Day and night mean little to them since they almost always live underground in the dark anyway. They sleep briefly and then wake up for a few hours. During our day and night, moles are awake three times and sleep three times.
Moles don’t hibernate. Animals that live in cooler regions retreat to deeper layers of the earth during the winter or stock up on food. The European mole, for example, hoards earthworms in its burrows. In doing so, he bites off the front part of their bodies so that they cannot escape but stay alive.
Moles have enemies: birds prey on them as soon as they come to the surface, especially owls, common buzzards, corvids, and white storks. But foxes, martens, wild boars, domestic dogs, and domestic cats also like to eat a mole. However, many moles also die prematurely because of flooding or because the ground has frozen too long and is too deep.
How do moles reproduce?
Males and females only meet when they want to have a young. This usually happens only once a year and mostly in the spring. The male seeks out a female in his burrow to mate with her. Immediately afterward the male disappears again.
The gestation period, i.e. the pregnancy, lasts about four weeks. Usually, three to seven cubs are born. They are naked, blind, and stay in the nest. The mother provides them with their milk for about four to six weeks. Then the young animals start looking for food themselves.
The young are sexually mature next spring. So they can multiply themselves. They usually only live for about three years because enemies eat them or because they don’t survive a winter or a flood.