Eastern Mole

Scalopus aquaticus

The Wildlife Services Image Collection

Eastern Moles are small mammals which are rarely seen. They are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular times), when it is difficult to see them; but that doesn't matter, because they spend almost all of their time underground.

Eastern Moles have short grayish-brown fur with large front feet. The toes on their feet are slightly webbed. They have a short, naked tail and a long, nake snout. You will not see eyes or ears on this animal. They do have very small eyes which are covered by skin and fur. Moles have poor eyesight and probably only are able to detect light with their eyes.

Eastern Moles can grow over eight inches long.

Eastern Moles live in woods, fields, lawns, and gardens.

They make burrows and tunnels to get around underground. The mole uses its strong front legs to push soil under its body. Then it uses its back legs to push the dirt behind its body. They are very good at this and can move much faster than you would think.

Moles build a nest burrow and several main tunnels branching off of it. These are fairly deep underground.

From the main tunnels, the mole digs several side tunnels which head towards the surface. Then the mole digs "temporary" tunnels from the side tunnels. These are what the mole uses to look for food. Temporary tunnels are just under the surface of the soil. The mole does not re-use the temporary tunnels, she just digs new ones when she's hungry.

It is temporary tunnels that people see. We call them ridges, because we see raised dirt above the normal ground level.

American Museum of Natural History

Copyright, Barbara L. Clauson

The foods that moles are searching for include: earthworms, insects (adults and larvae), snails, centipedes, spiders, and other small creatures. They will sometimes eat mice or baby birds, if they find them.

While moles do sometimes come above the surface, it is usually not for long. Sometimes they wait by a hole, ready to grab food or run back down if they see a threat.

If a predator does come, and the mole cannot get underground, it will release a musk, which is a bad-smelling odor, to try to change the predator's mind.

The Wildlife Services Image Collection

The Wildlife Services Image Collection

Eastern Moles have few predators, because they are not easy to catch. Snakes, foxes, raccoons, and owls will eat them if they can catch them.

Moles do not hibernate. Because their burrows are usually below the frost, they stay active in Winter.

Eastern Moles mate from February to March. Female moles have one litter a year, with two to five young. Nests are built with grasses, leaves, and plant parts in a burrow underneath a log, stump, or boulder.

Eastern Moles usually live about three years. Mole tunnels are sometimes used by other animals, especially voles and mice.

Tall weeds and grasses can help disguise mole holes and ridges and therefore offer some protection.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Common Black Ground Beetle

Copperhead

Switchgrass

Meadow Vole SP

Earthworm

Black Rat Snake

Smooth Crabgrass

White-footed Mouse SP

Daring Jumping Spider

Barred Owl

Red Clover

Soil Mite C

Garden Centipede

Red Fox

English Plantain

Isopod

Raccoon

Goldenrod

North American Millipede

Common Milkweed

Leopard Slug

Queen Anne's Lace

Meadow Vole

Pokeweed

Northern Bobwhite

Jimsonweed

Eastern Subterranean Termite

Lamb's Quarters

Black Carpenter Ant

Common Ragweed

Patent-leather Beetle

Bushy Aster

Eastern Yellow Jacket

Kentucky Bluegrass

Pennsylvania Firefly

Wild Strawberry

Cicada Killer

Dogday Harvestfly

Field Cricket

Fiery Searcher

Crane Fly

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

Relationship to Humans:

Eastern Moles help improve the soil by turning it over and mixing soil, air, and nutrients. This helps plant grow along with their poop, which is fertilizer.

Many people are annoyed by moles when they find ridges in their yard. What they don't stop to think about is why there are mole ridges in their yard. If moles dig tunnels under a lawn it is because they are finding food there. Most likely they are finding grubs (beetle larvae) which destroy lawns themselves. If you can live with the ridges, moles will take care of your grub problem. Then they will move somewhere else where there is more food. Letting moles do their thing is better for the entire environment than trying to poison the moles or grubs to get rid of them. When you use poisons, they stay in the soil and water and cause an unhealthy environment for all animals, including you.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Mammal
ORDER
Insectivora
FAMILY
Talpidae
GENUS
Scalopus
SPECIES
Scalopus aquaticus

QUICK LINKS

Organism Menu
Home
Glossary
Student Activities
Relationships
Classification Info
How to Use This Site
Bibliography