A mole is a small mammal with a rounded, stocky body and short tail, small eyes and ears, dense fur that is pale gray or brown in color. Moles have a long spade-like front claw which they use to burrow into the ground.
They are small mammals that eat invertebrates like worms and earthworms. They seldom come into contact with humans are solitary animals.
Mole Facts for Kids
- Moles are small mammals
- They can be found in Europe, Asia, and the United States
- They don’t hibernate.
- They spend most of their lives alone and underground
- Moles burrow to find earthworms that are found in the soil
Everything You Need To Know About Moles
They Aren’t Blind
It’s a common misconception that many people have, but these small mammals are not blind at all, despite the fact that they spend most of their day underground in an intricate network of tunnels.
Perhaps the misconception started because of their unusually small eyes, which are common in all species of moles.
It’s also unusual to find an animal capable of seeing when they spend so much time in the dark, as evolutionarily they don’t need to be able to see whilst underground, but these mammals certainly can.
They Are Widespread
You can find these mammals on every continent besides South America and Antarctica.
Not only are they global animals, but they are so adaptable that they’re happy to live anywhere so long as there is soil around for them to dig in to create their tunnels.
Although they tend to stay away from mountainous areas or areas where soil is too acidic, they are certainly an adaptable species that are happy in most climates.
Their Tunnels Are Their Homes
It might be surprising, but these tunnels are more than just a means to get around. They are burrows where these animals spend most of the day because they have everything.
Follow these tunnels, and you’ll find lots of different routes with passages leading off in all different directions, but you’ll find chambers too.
They have different chambers for different things, including a bedroom where they sleep, a birthing room for when they are ready to give birth, and even a kitchen where moles will bite the heads of earthworms and leave them inside for when they are hungry later.
They Have A Varied Diet
As we’ve already mentioned, earthworms are a particular favorite, but they’ll happily eat any insect larvae that they come across too.
Many people also mistakenly believe moles to be garden pests that are trying to eat the roots of the flowers in their garden, but this is another misconception attached to these often misunderstood creatures.
They actually target gardens because this is where they find so many of the earthworms they love so much, so if you’re going to blame anybody for your messed up flowerbed, blame the worms!
They Are Mostly Solitary
These are probably some of the more solitary mammals out there, and if there are over 3 of them within an acre of land, that’s considered a lot.
Not surprising when you think about it, though, given that their network of tunnels beneath the ground can span a considerable amount.
Over 3 in an acre, and you’d probably not have much solid ground to walk on because there would just be tunnels everywhere you tried to step!
They Only Meet Up To Mate
They will stay out of each other’s way for the most part, but when mating season arrives, males will extend their territory by a considerable amount until they find a female to mate with.
The female mole will then line their birthing chamber with dry plant materials and give birth to three or four pups at a time.
The pups will feed on their mother’s milk until around five weeks of age and will then leave the home tunnel completely, setting off to create a network of their own.
They Aren’t Rodents
Again, it’s another misconception attached to them, but they are actually small mammals.
Perhaps it’s their smaller sizes (between 4.5 and 6 inches usually, although the North American Mole is usually a little larger at around 7 inches, and the Russian species can grow to around 9 inches), or maybe it’s their tails, but they are so often believed to be rodents when this just isn’t the case.
Their Sensors Help Them Hunt
Whilst they are certainly not blind, they are colorblind, and their eyesight is poor. Scientists believe their eyes help them see the light and flashes of movement, but that’s about it.
Given that they spend so much time underground hunting for earthworms and other tiny insects, they can’t rely solely on their poor eyesight. Instead, sensors at the tip of their nose help them locate scents and movements of things nearby.
This ultimately helps them to hunt what they are looking for – with remarkable accuracy, too.
Their Soil Preference Varies By Species
Whilst all of them enjoy soil of any kind, some species have preferences when it comes to the soil that they like to create their homes in.
Eastern Moles, for example, prefer drier soil found in woodland, meadows, and fields. So too, do the Star-Nosed Moles.
Others prefer damp soil, though, and prefer to live in areas like marshes and bogs, where the soil is moister.
Their Forelimbs Are Exceptionally Powerful
You would probably expect them to be given how much they use them for digging, but their forelimbs are remarkably strong.
Their flat paws act like giant spades, making short work of soil, and their long claws help to dig out harder to move dirt as they burrow underground and create fresh tunnels.
Some semi-aquatic moles also use these large paws to help them swim, too, acting like large paddles in the water.
They Are Quick
The Star-Nosed Mole, in particular, can catch, kill, and eat food quicker than we as humans can follow. So when we say they can catch food in the blink of an eye, we really mean it.
Their sensors certainly help, but so does their almost constant need to hunt for food. These mammals can eat up to 100% of their body weight in food a day, so they’re obviously well-practiced hunters.
They Can Breathe The Same Air Over And Over
Due to unique blood cells, these mammals can breathe the same air repeatedly, suffering no ill effects.
Most mammals would eventually succumb to the lack of oxygen, as breathing in the same air results in constantly breathing carbon dioxide, which would kill most mammals.
Moles are especially hardy, though, and can survive underground for most of the day simply breathing in the same old air.