The eastern mole provides for numerous calls to our office. They are found throughout Illinois, the midwest and the eastern United States. The eastern mole is a subterranean, insectivorous mammal characterized by a streamlined body, naked elongated snout, large broad forelegs and palms adapted for digging. The eyes are minute and the ears are hidden beneath their dense fur. Their underground digging and burrowing activities result in raised turf and numerous mounds consisting of soil pushed above ground from below.
Moles breed in late winter and early spring and the gestation period is unknown. Biologists believe it is between four to six weeks resulting in litter sizes between two and five young.
Eastern moles prefer soils absent of heavy clay, stone or gravel and prefer soils in which burrowing is easy. Mole presence is most affected by soil type, condition, moisture content and amount of food available.
Eastern moles construct two types of tunnels, deep permanent tunnels and shallow temporary surface tunnels. Many of the surface tunnels may only be used once, especially for feeding purposes, while others may be used from year to year. The deep tunnels can be numerous and are used by many moles deep below the surface. The presence of deep tunnels can be identified because the moles will move excavated soil to the surface. The soil then forms the mole hill so many are familiar with.
The deep runs lead to the nest and resting areas. These den areas are usually deep in the soil and the denning quarters usually have numerous escape runs. The denning areas are usually constructed in high dry areas while hunting for worms and grubs takes place in moist, shaded cool areas.
Food for eastern moles include earthworms, insect larvae, adult insects, white grubs and vegetable matter. The eastern mole feeds voraciously and is known to eat a large percentage of it's body weight daily. It is believed that this large appetite is due to the energy burned while tunneling through the soil.
Damage complaints from homeowners involve the raised tunnels and distinct hills made by this species. The way in which you can determine if you have a mole infestation is by stepping on the tunnel. If the tunnel collapses under the weight of your foot you have moles. If the tunnel does not collapse and appears as though you have left you water hose on your lawn you may have an infestation of voles.
Trapping is the most effective and economical control method for this species.