Critter Corner - Eastern
DID YOU KNOW:
The mole's scientific name
means "digging foot". The eastern mole's front feet are much
larger than its hind feet. These enlarged front feet have
large claws so they can dig underground.
Moles catch most of their
are their favorite food, but they also eat many insects and
arthropods like sow
bugs, beetles and millipedes. Spiders are also on the menu, along
with some plant matter and even an occasional snake or vole
(another mammal that lives underground). Moles are always
hungry and usually eat 1/2 their body weight each day. If
you weigh 80 pounds, that would be like eating 40 pounds of food
Eastern moles usually give
birth to four babies in early spring. The babies are blind
and naked. Only the mother cares for the young.
At 10 days of age, they have gray, velvety fur; at 4 weeks, they
are old enough to care for themselves.
Moles live underground in
meadows, pastures, our lawns, and
places with loose, well-drained soil. They are found in
the eastern half of the United States, including Missouri and
Kansas. They construct two kinds of tunnels; the first is
barely under the surface and is used to find food; the second
kind of tunnel is deeper underground. Moles live solitary
lives, so each mole makes its own deep tunnel and large chamber
in the tunnel to protect it from heat, drought and cold and also
Moles have a strong odor that
some predators do not like. This musk is used to mark the
tunnels with scent so they can find
way. Living underground offers a lot of protection, unless
a coyote, fox or other mammal digs into the mole's tunnel.
Snakes may overpower young moles down in their tunnels.
Moles are active day and
night and rest for only about three hours a day. Moles
must stay busy to keep well-fed.
Moles have small eyes,
but they are not really useful.
Moles can dig their
near-the-surface tunnels at about a foot per minute and
deeper tunnels at the rate of 12 feet per hour.
Moles are valuable
because they help till and form soil and eat destructive
To learn more about
the eastern mole
(Photo credits: Portrait of
Mole, Oklahoma Biodiversity; Mole hill and Mole in tunnel from
Purdue University; Diagram of mole tunnel from Missouri
Department of conservation)