Moles and Body Temperature Regulation

Life beneath the surface of the earth is fascinating and shrouded in mystery. Moles are one such creature that spend most of their lives underground. Have you ever wondered how they manage to regulate their body temperature in such an extreme environment? It is a question that has perplexed scientists for a long time. In this article, we will delve deeper into how moles regulate their body temperature underground and understand the remarkable adaptations that allow this tiny creature to survive in such challenging conditions. Join us on this journey of discovery.

Why Regulate Body Temperature?

Why Regulate Body Temperature?
It may seem like regulating body temperature is something that only matters for animals who live in extreme environments, such as the Arctic or the Sahara. However, even animals who live underground, like moles, need to regulate their body temperature. Without proper temperature regulation, moles could suffer from hypothermia or hyperthermia, which could lead to serious health problems or even death. In this section, we will explore the reasons why temperature regulation is crucial for moles and how they achieve it. If you want to know more about the physical characteristics of moles, like their unique fur significance and strong forelimbs with claws, feel free to check out our previous articles through links here: /physical-characteristics-of-moles/ or /mole-strong-forelimbs-claws/.

Underground Temperature Conditions

The temperature conditions underground vary greatly depending on various factors. One factor is the depth at which a burrow is located, as burrows closer to the surface tend to experience greater temperature fluctuations due to the influence of surface air temperatures. The type of soil also plays a role, as denser soils tend to hold heat for longer periods of time, while softer soils may allow for greater air flow and thus more rapid temperature changes. Additionally, the time of year and local climate can greatly impact underground temperature. Moles have adapted to navigate and regulate their body temperature within these conditions to stay healthy and safe in their underground habitats.

Moles are a highly specialized species of mammal that have adapted to living their entire lives underground, and have developed many specialized features unique to the environment in which they reside. Some of these adaptations include unique fur, a highly sensitive snout, good hearing abilities, and highly specialized teeth for burrowing. Their internal anatomy has also evolved to enable them to maintain their body temperature within the highly variable underground conditions.

Having the ability to regulate their body temperature is vital for moles, as extreme temperature fluctuations can be detrimental to their health and survival. If a mole’s body temperature drops too low, it can slow their metabolism, making it more difficult to perform essential functions such as finding food and water. Conversely, if their body temperature gets too high, the mole can risk dehydration, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke.

As burrowing animals, moles have many ways to regulate their body temperature in response to changes in their environment. They use metabolic heat production to generate warmth and can vary the rate at which they utilize oxygen to help adjust their internal temperature. Additionally, they have adapted their circulatory system to enable greater or less blood flow to specific areas of their body, which can help them conserve heat or facilitate cooling. Some moles even go into a state of hibernation during extreme temperature conditions, where they conserve energy by slowing their metabolism and reducing their body temperature.

Learn more about different types of moles, their unique fur, snout behavior, hearing abilities, tail significance, internal anatomy, and teeth function to better understand their ability to regulate their body temperature.

Thermoregulation in Moles

When it comes to thermoregulation in moles, these subterranean mammals have unique adaptations to help them maintain a consistent body temperature despite their environment. Here are some ways moles regulate their temperature underground:

  • Fur: Moles have a thick layer of fur that insulates them from the surrounding soil. Their fur also repels dirt and dust, keeping it clean and allowing them to move more easily through their tunnels. (Learn more about moles’ unique fur here)
  • Orientation: Moles typically align their bodies along a north-south axis, which allows them to balance their exposure to sunlight and regulate their body temperature more effectively.
  • Burrows: Moles construct burrows that have multiple chambers at different depths. By moving between these chambers, moles can adjust their body temperature as needed.

Through these adaptations, moles are able to maintain a stable body temperature despite the variable conditions of their underground habitat.

How Moles Regulate Body Temperature

How Moles Regulate Body Temperature
As subterranean creatures, moles face the constant challenge of maintaining a steady body temperature in the underground world where temperatures fluctuate unpredictably. Yet, these tiny animals have evolved remarkable mechanisms to regulate their body temperature in order to survive in their harsh environments. Below, we will explore the various strategies moles use to regulate their body temperature and thrive in their underground habitats.

Metabolic Heat Production

Metabolic heat production is a vital part of thermoregulation in moles. Moles are small mammals that live underground, where temperature fluctuations can be extreme. To regulate their body temperature, moles generate heat through metabolic processes. Here are some ways moles produce metabolic heat:

  • Shivering: One way moles generate heat is by shivering. When moles shiver, their muscles contract and release rapidly, generating heat through friction.
  • Brown fat metabolism: Moles have a specialized type of adipose tissue called brown fat. This type of fat is packed with mitochondria, which produce heat when they metabolize fat. Moles can activate this fat to produce heat in cold conditions.
  • Fever: In response to infection or other health issues, moles may generate heat through a fever. A fever is a temporary increase in body temperature that helps fight off infection.

By producing metabolic heat, moles can maintain their body temperature in fluctuating underground conditions. In addition to metabolic heat production, moles also regulate body temperature through their circulatory system, respiration, and hibernation adaptations.

Circulatory System Regulation

Moles are able to regulate their body temperature by controlling blood flow to different parts of their body through their circulatory system. Their circulatory system consists of a heart, veins, and arteries that transport blood carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

Vasodilation and Vasoconstriction
Moles have the ability to control blood flow by vasodilation and vasoconstriction. Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels which allows more blood to flow to specific areas of the body. Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of blood vessels, which allows less blood to flow through. Through these processes, moles can regulate the amount of heat present in different areas of their body.

Counter-current Heat Exchange
Moles have also adapted to a process known as counter-current heat exchange, which allows them to transfer heat from warm arterial blood to cooler venous blood. In this process, arteries and veins that run parallel to each other are close enough to allow heat to transfer between them. This helps cool the arterial blood as it flows to the extremities, and warm up the returning venous blood as it travels back to the core of the body.

Shunting Blood Flow
Moles also have the ability to shunt blood flow (redirecting blood flow to specific parts of the body). This helps regulate their body temperature based on the heat demands of specific body parts. For example, when moles are digging in colder soil, they shunt blood away from their extremities to generate more heat at the core of their body.

Through these circulatory system regulations, moles are able to maintain their body temperature despite the varying temperatures they encounter underground.

Respiration and Oxygen Utilization

Moles have a unique respiratory system that helps them regulate their body temperature while underground. Unlike other mammals, moles have a high respiratory rate and a large lung surface area to help them extract oxygen more efficiently.

Oxygen Utilization

Moles are able to use oxygen more efficiently than many other mammals due to the structure of their lungs. Their lungs have a large surface area, which allows for more oxygen to be extracted from the air. Additionally, moles have a high metabolic rate, which means they require a lot of oxygen to fuel their activities.


Moles have a high respiratory rate, meaning they inhale and exhale more frequently than other mammals. This is because they need to take in more oxygen to maintain their high metabolic rate. Moles are also able to hold their breath for longer periods of time than other mammals, which allows them to conserve oxygen when needed.

To further conserve oxygen, moles have adapted to breathe in more efficiently. They have a unique structure in their nasal passages called the “nasal turbinates” that helps to warm and humidify the air as it enters their body. This adaptation helps to prevent the loss of heat and moisture with each breath.

Moles are highly adapted to efficiently utilize oxygen and regulate their body temperature while underground. Their unique respiratory system, along with other adaptations such as their circulatory system and metabolic rate, allows them to thrive in their unique habitat.

Hibernation Adaptations

Moles have adapted to survive in extreme environments, including during hibernation. During this period, their body temperature drops significantly in order to conserve energy. This adaptation includes several physiological changes that help moles maintain energy reserves while they sleep through the winter months.

One adaptation is torpor, a state of decreased metabolic activity that allows moles to lower their internal body temperature and conserve energy. This state is characterized by a decreased heart rate, breathing rate, and metabolic rate. The body temperature of torpid moles can drop to as low as 41°F (5°C), well below their normal body temperature of around 77°F (25°C).

Moles also undergo changes in their fat metabolism during hibernation. They store fat in the months leading up to hibernation, and then rely on these fat reserves to provide energy during the winter. This allows them to conserve energy and survive without eating for extended periods of time.

Hibernating moles have a reduced need for oxygen. They have adapted to use less oxygen during torpor, which allows them to conserve energy during periods of low food availability. This adaptation also allows moles to survive in environments with lower oxygen levels, such as underground burrows.

Finally, moles have developed adaptations to prevent dehydration during hibernation. They produce concentrated urine to conserve water, and their metabolism produces less waste products during torpor, which reduces the need for water. This adaptation helps moles avoid dehydration, which can be deadly in underground environments.

Moles have developed numerous adaptations to survive in extreme environments, including during hibernation. These adaptations allow them to conserve energy, maintain their internal temperature, and avoid dehydration during periods of low food availability.

Controlling Mole Infestations Without Harming Moles

As much as we may appreciate the benefits of moles in our gardens, their burrowing habits can cause significant damage. However, before attempting to get rid of moles, it’s important to consider humane methods that don’t harm these fascinating creatures. There are a variety of preventative measures and exclusion techniques that can deter moles from ruining your yard, as well as humane trapping and relocation methods for those who want to remove them from their property. In this section, we will explore some of the most effective ways to control mole infestations without causing harm to these important members of the underground ecosystem.

Preventative Measures

To prevent moles from entering your yard and causing damage, there are several preventative measures you can take. These measures include:

Preventative Measure Description
Maintain a Healthy Lawn Moist, dense soil is ideal for moles. By mowing your lawn regularly and keeping your grass healthy, you can discourage moles from entering your yard.
Remove their Food Sources Moles feed on grubs, earthworms, and other insects. In order to remove their food sources, you can apply insecticides or install nematodes in your yard.
Install Barriers Moles are unlikely to dig through gravel or coarse mesh material. Adding a layer of one of these barriers to the soil can prevent moles from entering your yard.
Keep the Soil Dry Moles prefer moist, underground environments. By keeping your soil as dry as possible, you can make your yard less appealing to them.
Eliminate Overhead Cover Moles use overhead cover to avoid predators. By trimming back trees and shrubs, you can eliminate this cover and reduce mole activity in your yard.

By implementing these preventative measures, you can discourage moles from entering your yard and reduce the likelihood of infestation. It’s important to remember that while these measures can be effective, they won’t necessarily eliminate moles entirely. If you have a severe mole infestation, you may need to consider other methods, such as humane trapping and relocation.

Mole-Repellent Plants

If you want to naturally control mole infestations in your yard without causing harm to these underground creatures, you can use mole-repellent plants. Some plants can emit scents or have tastes that moles dislike, keeping them away from your lawn and garden. Here are some plants you can consider adding to your yard to keep moles at bay:

  • Daffodils: Moles dislike the smell of this popular spring flower.
  • Castor bean: The oil extracted from this plant’s seeds contains ricinoleic acid, which can repel moles.
  • Alliums: Members of the onion family, including garlic, can have a similar effect as daffodils.
  • Marigolds: These bright flowers release an offensive odor that moles try to avoid.
  • Fritillarias: This bulb plant can have a similar odor-repelling effect as daffodils.
  • Euphorbias: Known for their strong scents, these plants can deter moles from digging in your yard.

Keep in mind that the effectiveness of mole-repellent plants can vary depending on the species of mole and the severity of infestation. It’s important to regularly monitor your yard and consider using other preventative measures or exclusion techniques in conjunction with these plants for maximum effectiveness.

Mole Exclusion Techniques

When it comes to getting rid of moles, exclusion techniques are some of the most effective methods that you can use. These techniques involve modifying the environment around your property so that moles are discouraged from coming in. Some exclusion techniques include:

Technique Description
Creating barrier plants Planting certain plants around your yard can help discourage moles from coming in. For example, moles dislike plants with strong smells like daffodils and marigolds. They also do not like to tunnel through areas with rough or thorny textures, so planting prickly bushes like holly can be helpful.
Using physical barriers Another effective exclusion technique is to use physical barriers around your property to prevent moles from entering. These barriers might include underground fences made of mesh or heavy-duty metal or wire barriers that are buried several inches deep in the soil.
Modifying soil conditions Finally, you can try to modify the soil conditions around your property to make them less desirable for moles. Over-watering your lawn or garden can create soggy soil that moles do not like to burrow through. You can also try to keep the soil around your property aerated and loose, as moles tend to prefer compacted soil that is easier to tunnel through.

Using exclusion techniques to get rid of moles can be a bit time-consuming, but it is also quite effective. By making some modifications to your environment, you can make it less inviting for these pests and encourage them to find a new place to tunnel.

Humane Trapping and Relocation Methods

Humane Trapping and Relocation Methods:

If you have a mole infestation problem and want to remove the moles from your yard, humane trapping and relocation methods are an ethical and safe solution. Trapping moles and relocating them to a different area ensures that the animals are not harmed in the process. However, it’s important to follow some guidelines to ensure that the trapping process is successful and humane.

Here are some steps to take when trapping and relocating moles:

  • Identify active mole tunnels: Moles create a network of underground tunnels and surface ridges. Identify the active tunnels and set up traps in those areas.
  • Select the right traps: There are different types of traps available for mole removal, such as live traps and lethal traps. Choose a trap that will catch the mole without harming it. Live traps are the most humane option.
  • Set the traps: Follow the instructions provided with the trap for the best results. Set the traps in the active tunnels and cover them with soil to avoid light exposure. Check the traps regularly to prevent the mole from being trapped for too long.
  • Release the moles: Once you’ve caught a mole, release it in a suitable habitat far away from your property. Ideally, this should be an area that’s similar to the mole’s original habitat and where it can find food and shelter.
  • Prevent future infestations: Once you’ve removed the moles from your yard, take preventative measures to avoid future infestations, such as planting mole-repellent plants or installing mole-proof barriers.

Remember that trapping and relocating moles should always be done in a humane way. It’s important to treat these animals with respect and ensure that they are not harmed during the removal process. By following the steps above, you can successfully remove moles from your yard without harming them, and prevent future infestations at the same time.


In conclusion, it is fascinating to learn about how moles have adapted to the underground temperature conditions and the ways in which they regulate their body temperature. Through metabolic heat production and the regulation of their circulatory system, moles are able to maintain a stable body temperature even in extreme environments.

Additionally, their ability to reduce respiration rates and utilize oxygen efficiently during periods of hibernation is a remarkable adaptation that helps them conserve energy and survive harsh winter conditions.

However, even though moles are incredible animals, they can cause damage to gardens and landscapes. Fortunately, there are several humane methods for controlling mole infestations without causing harm to the animals.

Preventative measures such as removing sources of food and water can help deter moles from taking up residence in your yard. Planting mole-repellent plants and excluding them from specific areas using barriers and mesh fencing can also be effective.

If all else fails, humane trapping and relocation methods can be used to remove moles from your property without harming them.

Overall, understanding the biology and behavior of moles can help us appreciate these fascinating creatures while also finding ways to coexist peacefully with them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is thermoregulation?

Thermoregulation is the process by which an organism maintains its body temperature within a certain range, despite fluctuations in the surrounding environment.

Why do moles need to regulate their body temperature underground?

Because the temperature underground can vary greatly depending on various factors, such as depth, soil type, and time of day. Without regulating their body temperature, moles may risk overheating or freezing while underground.

How does metabolic heat production help moles regulate their body temperature?

Metabolic heat production is the heat generated by the body during metabolic processes. Moles use this heat to warm up when they are cold, and to cool down when they are hot.

How does the circulatory system help moles regulate their body temperature?

The circulatory system helps distribute heat throughout the body. When moles are cold, their circulatory system constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the extremities and conserving heat. When they are hot, the circulatory system dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the skin’s surface and releasing heat through the skin.

How does respiration and oxygen utilization help moles regulate their body temperature?

Respiration and oxygen utilization help moles generate metabolic heat. When moles need to warm up, they can increase their oxygen intake and respire more quickly, creating more heat. When they need to cool down, they can slow their respiration and oxygen intake, reducing the amount of heat generated.

What adaptations do moles have for hibernation?

Moles have a number of adaptations for hibernation, including reduced metabolic rate, lowered body temperature, and the ability to store fat for energy during their dormant period.

What are some preventative measures to control mole infestations?

Preventative measures include keeping lawns and gardens well-maintained, removing food sources such as grubs, and installing physical barriers like fencing.

What are some mole-repellent plants?

Mole-repellent plants include daffodils, alliums, and castor bean plants, which contain compounds that moles find unappealing or noxious.

What are some mole exclusion techniques?

Mole exclusion techniques include burying mesh or hardware cloth underground to prevent moles from digging into garden beds, and creating a physical barrier around areas where moles are not wanted.

What are humane trapping and relocation methods for moles?

Humane trapping involves using live traps to catch moles, and then relocating them to an appropriate habitat, such as a nearby field or forest.