December 17, 2020 9:49 am

Yesterday I decided to tackle a garden job that I had been putting off for a while – digging up a mole tunnel that was blocking the gate! I knew the mole would not have any babies running around so it was now time!

Mole by steve bottom for cornwall wildlife trust

 

— picture by Steve Bottom, Cornwall Wildlife Trust

 

I can see why the mole was there; the gate is right near the compost heap; the worms attract the moles. They also eat harmful insect larvae such as cockchafers and carrot fly. Mole tunnels also help drain and aerate heavy soils (like mine).

I like to imagine the moles underneath me plucking prey from the ceiling of their tunnels as they scoot past. Do worms know when they are in a mole tunnel? Do they avoid them? Anyway, these were my musings as I began to flatten the hump. I went quite slowly as apparently moles are often injured by garden forks and I really did not want to hurt one. 

I am actually quite fond of them. This was not always the case!  When I had some turf laid I was annoyed when a mole ‘moved in’. But, after a while I realised mole hills contain amazingly fine soil. Ideal for planting seeds and bulbs once collected up.. So now we live quite happily together. Moles have very powerful legs to dig and the soil is so fine, it’s as if a food processor has whizzed up the earth to send it flying upwards! I even had a substantial mole hill in the patio (admittedly; not very well laid), I was astonished a mole could push the soil up through a tiny crack!

I had a very close encounter with a mole many years ago when I accidentally uncovered a nest. I could hear squeaking so stopped digging. A mole quickly reversed out of a hole and plopped onto the ground at my feet where it was expecting a tunnel to be! It was so irresistible; I picked it up. I could feel its warm little body in my hands and its rapid heartbeat. It did not wriggle and I held it close to look at it. It’s snout sniffed the air. I noticed the sharp claws and quickly put it back. I’ll never forget the smooth velvet silkiness of its fur. Sadly, 100 years ago moles were trapped in large numbers for their pelts. Today thousands are killed as pests. But I like them. I later learned that you are never supposed to pick up a mole without thick gloves on, as they have a ferocious bite! Now I enjoy seeing the little tunnels here, there and everywhere and even chuckle when a hill trips me up. It just goes to show that if we all had the chance to meet the animals in our garden we might be a little more tolerant of them.