‹‹ Back to Articles
Learning about the mole lifestyle
While moles are turning your yard into a minefield, you probably aren’t actually seeing the moles themselves. That’s because moles spend most of their lives underground, particularly during the day. Here are some other facts about how moles in Washington live their lives.
Social Habits and Territory
Moles are solitary animals. The only time they live together is when a female mole is raising young. One adult animal lives in an established underground burrow system. Males’ territories can overlap with females’ territories but not with other males’ territory.
It’s rare for an average city lot to harbor more than one male mole or two female moles. Five adult moles per acre is about the maximum population density for moles in our area. So while it may seem like the number of molehills in your yard must be made by an army, it’s likely the result of one or two moles hard at work!
Most North American moles eat only insects, but the kind of moles you’re likely to find in Bellevue or Sammamish are omnivores. Although most of the moles’ diet is earthworms, our Washington moles also eat grass roots, vegetable roots, and seeds. Their favorite food is earthworms, but they also eat slugs, grubs, ants, termites, and crickets.
Moles hunt and eat in their tunnels. They eat roots and seeds that are in their tunnel system, and they also eat insects that use the tunnels (like earthworms). Moles seal any holes in their tunnels. That is why a common method used to determine if moles are present, is to poke holes at various points along a tunnel system and the check a day or so later to see what holes are plugged – a plugged hole indicating the presence of a mole.
Mating is just about the only time that adult moles interact with each other. The exact mating season varies by species (there are three species of moles in Washington), as well as the elevation, but it ranges from winter to early summer. Female moles carry a litter of three to five young moles, giving birth once per year.
Female moles choose a spot in the tunnel system to build a nest - usually in one of the higher spots, so as to avoid being flooded out during spring rains. They build a nest with leaves and other soft vegetation.
One they’ve been weaned, the young moles disperse from the family home. They do this at night and above ground, searching out their own territory. They don’t stray far, though. Young moles often establish their own tunnel system within 30 yards of their family home. They reach sexual maturity at around 10 months and have their own litter in their first breeding season.
Moles live a maximum of about six years, provided they aren’t killed by Mole Patrol or by other predators.
Moles stay in their tunnel for protection. When they come out at night, they are preyed on by owls, hawks, and snakes. Dogs, cats, raccoons, and coyotes also kill moles, but they don’t love to eat them. Moles have a strong bitter oil in their fur that most mammals find unappealing.
A small number of young moles may meet their end in late spring flooding, but flooding rarely kills adult moles.
Now that you’ve gotten to know your mole neighbors, would you like them to move out?
Mole Patrol helps homeowners keep their yards mole-free in the Seattle area, including Bellevue, Woodinville, Redmond, Sammamish, and Kirkland. Whack-a-mole is fun at the arcade, but getting rid of moles in your yard isn’t child’s play. If you need a mole exterminator, we’re here to help. Contact us at 425-744-0371 and we’ll get your yard mole-free.