Identifying Mole Runways and Burrows: How to Get Rid of Moles

Have you ever woken up to find your perfectly manicured lawn riddled with molehills and tunnels? Maybe you’ve spent hours planting and tending to your garden, only to have it destroyed by these elusive creatures. Moles may seem harmless, but their incessant digging can cause significant damage to your property. So, what can you do to get rid of them? In this article, we will discuss how to identify mole runways and burrows, as well as explore various mole control methods to help you protect your lawn and garden.

What are Moles?

What Are Moles?
Moles are fascinating creatures that can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden. These burrowing animals are known for their distinct physical and behavioral traits, which set them apart from other garden pests. While they may look cute and harmless, moles can cause extensive damage to your property if left unchecked. From uprooting plants to creating unsightly tunnels, the effects of mole activity can be both frustrating and costly. To understand how to get rid of moles, it is important to first understand what moles are and how to identify their presence. Before we dive into identifying mole runways and burrows, let’s take a closer look at the physical and behavioral traits that make moles so unique. If you’re interested in learning more about the damage moles can cause to your yard, check out our article on mole damage vs other pests on the lawn.

Physical Traits

Moles are small, burrowing animals with several distinct physical traits that set them apart from other creatures. Here are some key features you should look for if you suspect you have moles in your yard or garden:

  • Size: Moles typically range from 4 to 9 inches in length and have stocky, cylindrical bodies that are covered in short, velvety fur.
  • Eyes and ears: Because they spend most of their lives underground, moles have small, almost invisible eyes and ears that are of little use to them.
  • Claws: Moles have large, powerful claws on their front feet that are perfectly designed for digging through soil and uprooting plants.
  • Nose/mouth: One of the most distinctive features of moles is their long, pointed snouts, which they use to explore their underground tunnels and locate prey.
  • Teeth: Moles have sharp, pointed teeth that are well-suited to their carnivorous diet, which consists mainly of insects and other small invertebrates.

Despite their small size, moles are capable of causing significant damage to lawns, gardens, and other outdoor spaces. To learn more about how their physical traits contribute to this damage, check out our article on mole damage to lawn health, mole damage to garden flower beds, and the causes and effects of mole damage to plant roots.

Behavioral Traits

Moles have a unique set of behavioral traits that helps them survive and thrive in their natural habitat. Here are some of the most notable behavioral characteristics of moles:

Behavioral Traits of Moles Description
Burrowing Moles are expert burrowers and can create elaborate underground tunnels and networks that can extend for long distances.
Nocturnal Most moles are nocturnal creatures, which means they are most active during the night and early morning hours.
Loners Moles are solitary creatures and prefer to live alone. They do not typically live in groups or colonies, except during breeding season.
Aggressive Moles are known to be aggressive and will attack other animals that enter their territory. However, they are not typically a threat to humans or pets.
Digging Moles are always digging new tunnels and creating new burrows. This constant digging can cause damage to lawns, gardens, and other outdoor spaces.
Feeding Moles feed primarily on earthworms, grubs, and other soil-dwelling insects. They have a high metabolism and need to eat frequently in order to survive.

These behavioral traits can make moles difficult to control and eradicate. However, with the right methods and tools, it is possible to get rid of moles and prevent damage to your property. We will explore various mole control methods in the next section of this article. But before that, it is important to learn how to identify moles and their habitats, which we will discuss in the next section.

Identifying Moles

Identifying Moles
When it comes to identifying moles, it can be quite a challenge for many homeowners. These elusive creatures often hide underground, leaving behind only subtle signs of their presence. However, being able to identify moles is an essential step in getting rid of them. In this section, we will discuss the physical and behavioral traits of moles to help you better understand these pests. We will also explore the signs of moles as well as their runways and burrows, so you can accurately determine if you have a mole problem. So, let’s dive into the world of moles and learn how to identify them. For tips on how to prevent mole damage in your lawn, check out our guide.

Signs of Moles

Moles are elusive creatures, and they are not easy to spot. However, they do leave a few signs that can indicate their presence in your lawn or garden.

One of the easiest ways to identify a mole problem is by the damage they cause. The most common signs of mole damage are raised ridges and tunnels that appear above ground as the mole burrows through the soil in search of food. These ridges can cause tripping hazards and can also destroy underground utilities if not taken care of properly. For more information on repairing lawn damage caused by moles, visit our article on repairing lawn damage caused by moles.

Another sign to look for is the presence of molehills, which are heaps of soil that the moles push to the surface as they dig tunnels beneath. These piles can be unsightly and cause problems when mowing the lawn.

In addition to damage, another sign of mole activity is the presence of raised soil in a linear pattern that cuts across a lawn or garden. These are mole runways and indicate the typical path that a mole uses to move through an area. For more information on identifying mole runways, read our article on identifying mole runways.

Finally, you may also see signs of mole activity in the form of upturned soil where the moles have dug their burrows. These burrows are typically found in areas where the soil is moist and easily worked. You can learn more about identifying mole burrows in our article on identifying mole burrows.

If you have noticed any of these signs in your lawn or garden, it’s essential to take action to control the mole population. For more information on mole control methods, read on to our section on mole control methods. Keep in mind that preventative measures are often the most effective approach. To learn more about preventative measures against moles, read our article on the role of repellents in mole control.

Identifying Mole Runways

Identifying mole runways is an essential step in getting rid of moles in your lawn or garden. These runways are created as moles dig shallow tunnels underground in search of food. There are two types of mole runways: main runways and feeding runways.

Main runways are the most significant and largest type of mole runway. They are usually found along the edges of buildings, fences, and other structures. To identify these runways, it’s essential to look for raised ridges of soil without any visible entry holes. These runways are the main thoroughfares moles use to travel throughout their territory.

On the other hand, feeding runways are smaller and less visible than main runways. They are designed for moles to forage for food, which includes earthworms, grubs, and other insects. These runways are characterized by mounds of loose dirt and raised soil visible at a regular interval, indicating feeding activity. In contrast to main runways, feeding runways are usually shorter and more winding.

It’s essential to identify the type of mole runway before taking corrective measures. This identification will help determine the mole’s location and understand the extent of the infestation. By doing so, you can take appropriate actions to eradicate the moles effectively.

When identifying mole runways, it is essential to be cautious and avoid damaging any underground utilities like cables, pipes, or sprinkler systems. If in doubt, consult with a professional before digging near any underground utilities.

To learn more about traps as a mole control method, check out our article on the benefits and drawbacks of traps for mole removal. Additionally, you can read our article on mole damage to underground utilities here.

Identifying Mole Burrows

One of the ways to identify moles is by looking for their burrows. These are tunnels that they dig underground, which they use for shelter, nesting, and storing food. Here are some characteristics that you can look for in identifying mole burrows:

Characteristics of Mole Burrows Description
Shape The burrows are often irregular in shape and may not follow any specific pattern. They may have branches or extensions that lead to different areas.
Depth Moles can dig burrows up to 18 inches deep, although most are usually between 3 and 6 inches deep.
Size The entrance to the burrow is usually about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.
Soil The soil around the burrow may be pushed up into a ridge or pile. This is called a “molehill” and is often a sign of mole activity.
Location Mole burrows are usually found in areas with loose, moist soil that is easy to dig. They may also be found near sources of food, such as gardens or flowerbeds.

Identifying mole burrows can help you determine the location of mole activity on your property. Once you have identified their burrows, you can then proceed with mole control methods to get rid of them.

Mole Control Methods

As delightful as they may seem, moles can wreak havoc in your garden or lawn. If you’re struggling to keep them at bay, rest assured that there are several control methods available to you. These range from natural repellents to traps and poisons, and each method has its own pros and cons. You might find it challenging to decide which option is best suited for your needs, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this section, we’ll discuss the various mole control methods that you can use to keep these critters away from your property.

Preventative Measures

To prevent mole infestations in your garden, there are a number of preventative measures you can take.

  • Reduce access to food: Moles feed on grubs and worms, so avoid over-watering your lawn, which can attract these insects. Instead, water deeply and infrequently to encourage healthy grass roots that can resist pests.
  • Eliminate hiding places: Moles thrive in soil that is loose, moist, and shaded. By improving soil drainage, removing weeds and debris, and pruning back vegetation, you can make your garden less attractive to moles.
  • Install barriers: Physical barriers can be effective at keeping moles out of your lawn and garden. For example, lining planting areas with a barrier cloth or using mesh wire fencing can help prevent moles from burrowing in your soil.
  • Encourage natural predators: Owls, hawks, and domestic cats are all natural predators of moles. By creating habitats in your garden that attract these animals, you may be able to naturally control your mole population.
  • Use plants with caution: Certain plants, such as castor beans and mole plant, are promoted as natural mole repellents. However, be cautious when using these plants, as they can also be toxic to humans and animals.
  • Maintain healthy soil: Moles prefer soil that is loose and organic matter-rich, so maintaining a healthy soil structure can help deter them. Adding organic matter to your soil, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can help improve soil structure and limit the presence of moles.

By practicing these preventative measures, you can reduce the likelihood of a mole infestation and protect your lawn and garden from damage.

Natural Repellents

Natural repellents can be a safe and eco-friendly way to keep moles away from your yard. Here are some effective options:

  • Castor Oil: One of the most popular natural mole repellents is castor oil. Mix it with water and dish soap, then spray it over the affected areas. The unpleasant smell will deter moles from tunneling through your yard.
  • Mothballs: Mothballs are primarily used to repel moths, but they can also be effective against moles. Place them in the mole runways or burrows, and the scent will drive the moles away from your yard.
  • Pepper: The strong scent of pepper can irritate moles and discourage them from tunneling. Sprinkle cayenne pepper or black pepper around the mole activity. You can also mix it with water and spray it on the affected areas.
  • Garlic: Like pepper, garlic has a strong smell that can repel moles. Mash a few garlic cloves and mix them with water, then pour the mixture into the mole runways and burrows.
  • Plants: Certain plants, like daffodils and alliums, contain natural compounds that moles find unappealing. Planting them around the perimeter of your yard can discourage moles from tunneling into your yard.

However, keep in mind that these natural repellents may not work for every situation and every type of mole infestation. It’s important to continue monitoring your yard for mole activity and utilize other methods if needed.


Traps are another effective way to control moles in your yard. Here are some of the most common types of traps that you can use:

  • Scissor traps: These traps are easy to set up and use. They work by impaling the mole once it tries to go through a narrow opening. These traps are designed to kill the mole instantly. However, they require you to locate the active runways first so that you can position the traps properly.
  • Harpoon traps: These traps work similarly to scissor traps, but instead of impaling the mole, they use a spring-loaded system to eject sharp spikes at it. These traps are a little more complicated to set up, but they are also more humane, as they don’t kill the mole instantly. Instead, they allow you to release it into a new location away from your yard.
  • Bucket traps: These traps use a bucket or a container to trap the mole. They work by creating a steep incline that leads up to the rim of the container. Once the mole falls in, it can’t climb out due to the slippery surface on the side of the container. You can then relocate the mole to a new location away from your home.
  • Pitfall traps: These traps involve digging a hole in the ground and lining it with a container or a bucket. Once the mole falls into the hole, it can’t climb out, and you can then release it into a new location away from your home.

Remember that when using traps to control moles, it’s important to check them frequently to ensure that you remove any captured moles promptly. Leaving a trapped mole in the trap for a long time can cause it to suffer or die of starvation, and this is not humane. Additionally, always follow the instructions of the trap manufacturer, and wear protective gloves when handling the traps to avoid getting bitten as moles can carry diseases.


One method of getting rid of moles is by using poisons. However, this method is controversial and should only be used as a last resort. There are different types of mole poisons available, including anticoagulants and zinc phosphide.

Anticoagulant poisons are commonly used and work by causing internal bleeding in the mole. These poisons come in different forms, such as pellets or meal, and are usually placed inside the mole runway tunnels.

It’s important to note that anticoagulant poisons can also be harmful to other animals and even humans. It’s crucial to follow the instructions carefully and place the poison in an area where it won’t be accessible to pets or children.

Another type of poison is zinc phosphide. This poison works by reacting with the acid in the mole’s stomach, which causes the release of toxic phosphine gas. This gas then poisons the mole.

Zinc phosphide poisons usually come in the form of pellets, and are placed in the mole’s burrows. However, it’s essential to wear gloves and avoid touching the pellets to prevent any accidental ingestion. Additionally, it’s crucial to place the pellets in a secure area away from other animals and pets.

Using poisons to get rid of moles should be a last resort, and it’s essential to weigh the potential risks and benefits before deciding on this method. It’s also crucial to follow the instructions thoroughly and take the necessary safety precautions.


After going through the article, it’s apparent that moles can be a troublesome pest if left unchecked. These tiny creatures may seem harmless, but can cause serious damage to your lawn or garden. However, there are several effective ways to identify and get rid of moles.

Identifying moles: As discussed in the article, there are various signs of mole activity, such as raised tunnels on your lawn or mounds of soil, to name a few. If you’re uncertain, it’s worth consulting an expert to make sure that moles are indeed the culprits. Identifying mole runways and burrows can also help you gauge the extent of the infestation and take corrective measures accordingly.

Mole control methods: In this section, we discussed several ways to control mole infestations. Preventative measures such as creating barriers and limiting the availability of food can deter moles from entering your lawn. Natural repellents can also be used to keep moles away from your garden. However, if the infestation is severe, traps and poisons can be used to eliminate moles.

Conclusion: Overall, dealing with a mole infestation can be a challenging task, but it’s not impossible. By identifying signs of mole activity and understanding their behavior, you can take proactive steps to keep them at bay. However, mole control methods should be used with care, and it’s wise to consult a professional pest control company for guidance. With diligence and persistence, you can successfully get rid of moles and prevent future infestations, ensuring a lush and healthy lawn for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do moles damage lawns?

Moles tunnel through lawns in search of insects and grubs to eat. Their tunnels can cause grass roots to dry out, leading to brown patches and dead spots in your lawn.

Do all mole species cause harm?

There are some species of moles that actually benefit gardens by aerating soil and consuming harmful insects. However, the moles that are common in North America are typically considered pests.

What is the best time of year to control moles?

The best time to control moles is in the spring, when their population is typically at its lowest. This is because they have already eaten most of the available insects during the winter months.

What are some natural repellents for moles?

Some natural repellents for moles include castor oil, garlic, cayenne pepper, and certain plants like daffodils and alliums.

What type of traps are most effective for catching moles?

The most effective traps for catching moles are harpoon or scissor traps that are specifically designed for underground use. These types of traps will pierce the mole’s skin, killing it instantly.

What should I do with a live mole that I catch?

If you catch a live mole, it is best to release it far away from your home and garden in a wooded or natural area. Do not attempt to move it to a new location on your property, as it will likely just return.

Are moles nocturnal?

No, moles are not strictly nocturnal. They are active during the day and night, but are most active at dawn and dusk.

How do I know if I have more than one mole?

You can tell if you have more than one mole if you see multiple mounds of soil in your lawn or if you notice criss-crossing tunnels in your grass.

Can moles carry diseases?

No, moles are not known to carry any diseases that can infect humans or pets.

Why should I avoid using poisons to control moles?

Poisons can be dangerous not only to moles, but also to other animals, pets, and humans who may accidentally come in contact with them. Additionally, poisons are not always effective at controlling mole populations and can harm other wildlife that may consume the poisoned mole.