The Townsend’s and Pacific moles range in size from 6 to 9 inches long, have very small eyes, no visible ears, huge front feet, and short, pink tails. The fur is velvety-black.
They are rarely seen above ground. Moles are active yearround but are most noticeable and do the most damage during spring and fall. Voles, which are burrowing rodents, are often mistaken for moles, but can be easily identified by their dark tails and small front feet. To identify various pest’s tunnels, see What’s Tunneling in My Yard (Pehling 2014).
Moles do NOT use their entire tunnel system on a regular basis, but rotate through different areas of activity.
Moles are solitary animals, but where one territory ends, another may begin. The mole’s boundaries are defined by scent marking, which is not obvious to humans. When a mole dies, another mole often takes over the tunnel system to create a large mole territory or colony (Figure 1).
Territories cover an average area of 2/5 acre (about the size of a square that is 132 feet on each side), and can be any shape (such as long and narrow or circular). Tunnels are often located along sidewalks, fences, or in other non-compacted areas. Well-used old tunnels may not be visible above ground.
Moles can live up to 3 years in the wild, and females give birth to an average of 3 to 4 young in April or May of each year (Figure 2).
About four weeks after birth, the young moles will leave the nest to find its own territory.
Moles hunt worms and other soil invertebrates that fall into the tunnels, but will also take prey while
Some Townsend’s moles do take a liking to bulbs, seeds, or grass roots, but in general, voles cause the most damage of this sort.
Trapping is the ONLY method that allows for consistent results in Mole control. However, in the year 2000, Initiative 713 was passed that made Mole trapping illegal in Washington State. Mole trapping is punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both. All other methods available do not provide any consistent level of Mole control, and in many cases are questionable as to whether they do anything at all.
Since trapping is illegal, Eastside Exterminators has no services available that will allow us to provide consistent and measurable results for Mole Control.
Mole traps are readily available over the counter or online, they are just illegal to use in Mole Control efforts. However, if you choose to use this approach understanding the possible consequences, these products come with very detailed instructions.
For more information please read "Mole Management in Washington Backyards from Washington State University's Extended Studies Gardening Resources.