Digging Deep: The Burrowing Habits of Moles

Have you ever stumbled upon mysterious mounds of soil in your garden or yard, seemingly appearing out of nowhere? Perhaps you’ve noticed damage to your plant roots and soil, but can’t quite identify the culprit. Allow us to introduce you to the fascinating world of moles, and their intricate burrowing habits. These elusive creatures are known for the network of tunnels they create underground, but how deep do they actually go? Let’s uncover the secrets of mole behavior, and learn how to identify and control their pesky presence.

How Mole Burrow

How Mole Burrow
Burrowing is an important aspect of a mole’s life, allowing them to travel, hunt, and create their unique underground homes. But have you ever wondered how moles are able to dig such intricate tunnels and mounds? The answer lies in their physical characteristics and behavior. Let’s take a closer look at how these mysterious creatures burrow and what sets them apart from other animals. To learn more about their unique habits, check out our related article about moles’ daily routines.

The Mole’s Habitat

Moles are commonly found digging mounds and tunnels on lawns, gardens, and fields. Their habitat is typically underground where they construct intricate tunnel systems that serve as their shelter and storage for food. Moles prefer habitats with loose and moist soil, making gardens and lawns their favorite places to make burrows.

The tunnels they dig are typically around 2 to 12 inches below the surface, but some tunnels can go as deep as 40 inches, providing more warmth during colder months. Moles create long tunnels for traveling which are connected to deeper and more circular chambers used for sleeping or storing food.

In search of food, moles can dig surface burrows, creating ridges on a lawn, which is the most common sign of their presence. Moles commonly create burrows near to trees, fence rows, foundations, and sidewalks.

Despite their underground nature, moles are social creatures spending some time with family members, especially during breeding seasons. They have an interesting sleep habit, taking quick naps of about two hours while patrolling their territory before returning to their nest. The nests of a mole smell distinct and easily noticeable.

Understanding the habitat of moles is crucial in determining where they are most likely to burrow and take shelter. By understanding their behavior, it makes it easier to control their activities and keep them away from lawns, gardens, and fields. For more information about the habits of moles, you can read about their eating habits, social habits, sleep habits, mating habits and hunting habits.

Mounds and Tunnels

Moles create mounds and tunnels while they burrow underground. Both mounds and tunnels serve different purposes in the mole’s life.

Mounds are created when moles dig through the soil and push it up to the surface. The soil forms into a cone-shaped mound made up of small particles, grass roots, and other debris. The mounds are usually about 2-24 inches in diameter and are usually found in areas where the mole has been actively burrowing.

Tunnels, on the other hand, are the mole’s main form of transportation underground. They are made up of a network of small tunnels that the mole digs. The tunnels allow the mole to quickly move around and access different areas of its territory. Tunnels can be divided into two categories: main tunnels and feeding tunnels.

Main tunnels are used by the mole as highways to move from one part of its territory to another. They are usually located deeper underground and are larger in diameter. In contrast, feeding tunnels are used to search for food. They are smaller and located closer to the surface.

Sometimes, moles create “sunken tunnels” that run just below the surface of the ground. These are feeding tunnels and are often visible while walking on the ground. These tunnels will collapse if stepped on, and the soil falls inward.

Overall the mounds and tunnels created during a mole’s burrowing activity are vital to its survival. They serve as protection, allow the mole easy access to food, and are crucial for its movement.

Depth of Burrowing

Moles are known for their impressive burrowing abilities, and can create an extensive network of tunnels and chambers underground.
They are capable of burrowing up to 18 feet per hour.
– The depth of their burrows can vary depending on factors such as soil type and moisture levels.
– Moles typically dig their tunnels at a depth of around 6 to 24 inches beneath the surface, although they can occasionally burrow up to 3 feet deep.
The tunnels closer to the surface are used to hunt for food, while deeper tunnels are used for nesting and protection.
– The excavated dirt from their tunnels is pushed up towards the surface, creating small mounds in a fan shape.

While their burrowing may be impressive, it can also cause problems for homeowners and gardeners. The tunnels can damage roots and make soil more susceptible to erosion. Understanding the depth of their burrows can help in controlling and preventing moles from causing damage to your property.

The Mole’s Diet

Moles are insectivores, which means their diet consists mainly of insects, grubs, beetles, earthworms, and other small invertebrates found in the soil. A single mole can eat up to its body weight in food each day! Here is a breakdown of the mole’s diet:

Food Description
Insects Moles prefer small insects such as ants, termites, and beetles.
Earthworms Moles love earthworms, and they make up a large part of their diet.
Grubs Moles are also fond of grubs, which are the immature forms of beetles.
Small invertebrates Moles will eat other small invertebrates such as snails, slugs, and millipedes if they are available.
Plants and roots Although not a major part of their diet, moles will eat plants and roots if they are unable to find enough insects and other invertebrates.

Moles have a high metabolism, which means they need to eat frequently to keep their energy levels up. They have a special adaptation in their saliva that allows them to paralyze their prey, making it easier to consume. Their teeth are sharp and pointed to help them break through the tough exoskeletons of some insects.

The Mole’s Lifestyle

Moles are fascinating creatures with some interesting lifestyles. They are solitary creatures that don’t socialize much with other moles. Instead, they spend most of their time underground in their burrows.

Here are a few lifestyle habits of moles presented in a table:

Aspect of Mole’s Lifestyle Description
Mole’s activity pattern Moles are active day and night, working hard to maintain their underground homes and find food.
Mole’s diet preferences Moles mainly eat insects, grubs, and earthworms, but they also consume smaller vertebrates such as mice, shrews, and snakes. Occasionally, they also eat plant matter.
Mole’s energy requirements Due to their high metabolic rate, moles have to constantly search for food to maintain their energy levels. They need to eat almost their body weight in food per day.
Mole’s digging ability Moles have powerful front legs with large claws that enable them to burrow through soil and create their intricate tunnel system.
Mole’s nesting behavior Moles create underground nests lined with grass and leaves. They usually have several nesting chambers and an entrance and exit tunnel.
Mole’s mating habits Male moles usually mate with multiple females, but they have little involvement in raising the offspring. Baby moles are born blind and hairless and are raised by the mother.
Mole’s lifespan Moles have a relatively short lifespan of around three years. However, they are able to breed rapidly, producing multiple litters each year to compensate for their short lifespan.

Understanding the lifestyle of moles can help you control their activity and prevent any damage they may cause in your garden or lawn.

Signs of Moles

Signs Of Moles
As gardeners and homeowners, it’s not uncommon to notice damage in our lawns and gardens, but sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint the cause. If you’re seeing raised ridges in your lawn or noticing plants wilting despite regular watering, you may be dealing with moles. These elusive creatures can be hard to spot, but there are a few telltale signs that can help you identify their presence. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common signs of moles and what they might mean for your garden.

Visible Tunnels and Mounds

One of the most obvious signs of the presence of moles on your property is the appearance of visible tunnels and mounds. These tunnels and mounds are created as the mole burrows through the soil in search of food.

Tunnels: Moles dig two types of tunnels: feeding tunnels and travel tunnels. Feeding tunnels are located just below the surface of the soil and are used by the mole to hunt for food. These tunnels are typically short and meandering, with several entrances and exits. Travel tunnels, on the other hand, are deeper and are used by the mole to move quickly and efficiently through the soil. These tunnels are usually straighter and more direct than feeding tunnels.

Mounds: As moles burrow through the soil, they create small mounds of dirt on the surface. These mounds are created as dirt is pushed up from the mole’s tunnel system. The size and shape of the mole mounds can vary, depending on the size of the mole and the depth of its tunnel system. In general, however, mole mounds tend to be small and conical in shape.

If you notice visible tunnels and mounds in your lawn or garden, it is likely that you have a mole infestation. It is important to address the problem as soon as possible, as moles can cause significant damage to your landscaping if left unchecked. In the next section, we will discuss some methods for controlling moles on your property.

Damaged Roots and Soil

One of the most common signs of a mole infestation is the damage they cause to the roots and soil of plants. As moles dig their tunnels, they may accidentally hit roots or disrupt the soil surrounding them. This can impede the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and water, leading to withering or dying vegetation.

There are several ways to identify if your plants have been damaged by moles. Here are a few possible signs:

  • Wilting or dying plants: If you notice that your plants are not growing as well as they should and are starting to wilt or die, this may be a sign that their roots have been damaged.
  • Loose soil: Moles dig tunnels in the soil, which can cause it to become loose and crumbly. This can be especially noticeable around the base of plants.
  • Bumps or ridges in soil: When moles create their tunnels, they push soil up to the surface, creating bumps or ridges in your lawn or garden.
  • Small holes in soil: As moles dig their tunnels, they may create small holes in the soil surface. These can be difficult to see, especially if they are covered up by grass or other vegetation.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action quickly to prevent further damage to your plants. There are several natural and chemical control methods available to help get rid of moles, which will be discussed later in the article.

Surface Runways

Surface runways are one of the most visible signs of a mole infestation. These are raised ridges that form along the ground as moles move through their tunnels. They typically appear as narrow stripes of disturbed earth that are slightly elevated above the surrounding soil. These runways often run in a straight line, connecting different areas of the mole’s burrow system.

If you notice surface runways in your yard, it is a good idea to examine them closely for signs of mole activity. One way to do this is to press down on the raised ridges with your foot. If the ridge collapses easily, it is likely an old tunnel that is no longer in use. However, if it holds firm, there is a good chance that it is an active runway.

While surface runways are a sign of mole activity, they do not necessarily indicate a serious infestation. Moles often use surface runways to travel from one part of their burrow system to another, and they may abandon these runways if they become too exposed or if they attract the attention of predators.

If you have noticed an increase in the number of surface runways in your yard, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for other signs of mole activity, such as tunneling or mounding, to determine if the infestation is spreading. If you are concerned about mole damage to your yard or garden, there are several control methods that you can use to manage the population and protect your plants.

Moles Control

Dealing with moles can be a frustrating and perplexing experience for homeowners and gardeners alike. Despite their somewhat cute appearance, moles can cause significant damage to lawns and gardens with their non-stop tunneling and burrowing. Many individuals find themselves wondering how to get rid of moles and prevent further damage to their outdoor living spaces. In this section, we will explore various methods of mole control, including natural control methods, chemical control methods, and the option of seeking professional help.

Natural Control Methods

Natural control methods can be an effective way to manage moles without the use of harmful chemicals. These methods can include various techniques that are safe for the environment and won’t harm other animals or plants in the area. Here are some natural control methods that can help control moles:

Method Description
Eliminate their food source If moles can’t find their favorite food (such as grubs), they are less likely to stick around. Use nematodes or other natural predators to reduce the grub population in your lawn. Planting certain herbs and plants that moles dislike, such as daffodils and alliums, may also be effective.
Castor oil Castor oil can be poured down the tunnels to make the soil taste and smell unpleasant for moles. This natural repellent works by creating an uncomfortable environment for moles, making it uninviting for them to stay.
Plant barriers Planting barriers around your lawn or garden can help prevent moles from entering. Plant a border of mint or marigolds around the perimeter of your lawn or garden, as moles don’t like the smell of these plants.
Traps Traps can be an effective way to remove moles without hurting them. Make sure to check your local laws and regulations before setting traps, as some areas may require permits or have specific regulations regarding trapping wildlife.
Physical barriers Physical barriers, such as mesh or chicken wire, can be installed underground to prevent moles from entering your lawn or garden. These barriers should extend at least 1-2 feet below the surface.

By implementing these natural control methods, you can help reduce the number of moles in your lawn or garden in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

Chemical Control Methods

Chemical control methods can be an effective way to get rid of moles, but they should be used with caution. There are two main types of chemical control methods: baits and repellents.

Baits: Mole baits are typically made of zinc phosphide, which is a toxic substance that is fatal to moles if ingested. Baits can be placed in active mole tunnels and should be placed deep enough to avoid other animals or children from finding and consuming them. It’s important to follow all label directions and precautions for handling and storing baits.

Repellents: Mole repellents are substances that emit odors or tastes that are unpleasant to moles. These repellents can be applied to soil or plants that moles are known to frequent. There are a variety of natural and chemical repellents available, but their effectiveness can vary. Some popular natural repellents include castor oil and garlic, while chemical repellents may contain ingredients like aluminum ammonium sulfate or ammonium soaps of higher fatty acids.

It’s important to note that while chemical control methods can be effective in getting rid of moles, they can also harm beneficial animals and insects in the area. It’s important to follow all label directions and precautions for handling and use, as well as considering alternative methods like natural controls or seeking professional help.

Professional Help

When all else fails in attempting to control the mole population in your yard or garden, it may be time to call in the professionals for help. Professional mole control services specialize in identifying the specific mole species causing the damage and implementing effective control methods.

Here are some reasons why you may want to consider professional mole control:

  • The mole population is too large to handle on your own
  • You have tried several control methods without success
  • You are concerned about the safety and potential harm to other wildlife or pets while attempting control methods
  • You want a long-term solution rather than a temporary fix

Professional mole control methods may include:

  • Trapping: Using specially designed mole traps to capture the animals
  • Fumigation: Using poisonous gases to kill the moles in their tunnels
  • Repellents: Applying natural or chemical products to deter the moles from your property
  • Exclusion methods: Installing physical barriers or modifying the landscape to prevent moles from entering

It’s important to note that selecting a reputable and experienced professional mole control service is essential to ensure the safe and effective removal of moles from your property. Be sure to research and compare different services in your area and ask for references or reviews from previous clients. While professional mole control may come at a higher cost, it can ultimately save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.


In conclusion, understanding the behavior and habits of moles can greatly help in controlling their presence in your yard or garden. Natural control methods such as using plants that deter their presence and creating barriers can be effective, but may not completely eradicate the problem. Chemical control methods could be used but need to be carefully used as they could also harm other animals and beneficial insects in your yard. Seeking professional help from pest control experts may be the best option, as they have the proper equipment and knowledge to safely and effectively remove moles from the area.

It’s also important to note that moles play an important role in their ecosystem, and their burrowing habits help to aerate the soil and control insect populations. As much as possible, humane methods should be used to control their presence rather than exterminating them completely.

If you do notice signs of moles in your yard, such as visible tunnels and mounds or damaged roots and soil, it’s important to take action sooner rather than later. This can prevent the moles from causing even more damage, which could be costly to repair.

Overall, with careful attention and proper control methods, moles and their burrowing habits can be managed effectively, allowing you to maintain a thriving and healthy lawn or garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a mole’s purpose?

Moles are insectivorous animals that help to control populations of soil-dwelling pests. They also help to aerate the soil and improve its nutrient content through their burrowing activities.

Are all types of moles harmful?

No, not all moles are harmful. While they can be a nuisance in gardens and lawns, they generally do not cause significant damage to structures or pose a threat to human health.

How do moles create their tunnels?

Moles use their powerful forelimbs and strong shoulders to push their way through the soil, creating a network of tunnels and burrows. As they tunnel, they also create mounds of soil at the surface, which are known as molehills or mole mounds.

What do moles eat?

Moles primarily feed on insects, earthworms, and other soil-dwelling invertebrates. They have a very high metabolism and need to consume a large amount of food each day to sustain themselves.

Do moles hibernate during the winter?

No, moles do not hibernate. They are active year-round, although they may tunnel deeper below the surface during the winter months to avoid freezing temperatures.

What are the signs of a mole infestation?

The most obvious signs of a mole infestation are the presence of molehills or surface runways, as well as damage to plant roots and soil. You may also be able to see the mole itself or its tracks in the soil.

Can moles damage underground pipes and wires?

In rare cases, moles may damage underground pipes and wires if they burrow too close to them. However, this is generally not a significant concern and can be prevented through proper installation techniques.

What are some natural control methods for moles?

Natural control methods for moles include using repellents such as castor oil or planting plants that moles do not like, such as daffodils. You can also encourage predators such as owls or snakes to help control the mole population.

Are chemical control methods safe for the environment?

Chemical control methods for moles can be effective, but they may also harm other wildlife and disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem. It is important to follow all safety instructions carefully and use these methods sparingly.

When should I call in a professional for mole control?

If you have tried natural and chemical control methods and are still experiencing a significant mole infestation or damage, it may be time to call in a professional pest control company. They can help you identify the extent of the problem and develop a targeted control plan.