European Mole

The European mole lives across most of Europe, including large parts of Britain, but does not live in southern Europe, which is too dry. However, the species is found across northern Asia as far as China.

The European mole is adapted for life underground. It has short but sturdy forelegs equipped with wide claws, which are used for digging tunnels and pulling the animal along. The hind legs are much smaller.

Like all moles, this species is a tunneller. It digs using the large claws on its forefeet. Its rounded body and short fur make it easy for the mole to push through loosened soil. The European mole needs relatively deep soil to dig in. It pushes the excavated soil out on to the surface, making a molehill.

It is most common in woodlands, where deep soil is held together by tree roots. However, the moles are also found under fields and in gardens. Their tunnels can undermine the structure of the soil, and the molehills ruin lawns.

European moles are rarely seen, but their presence in an area is evident by the piles of soil that they create across a landscape. Moles are found in a range of environments where they can burrow easily through the soil. In certain areas, such as farmland and gardens, however, they may be hunted because of their digging activities, which create piles of molehills as soil is deposited at the surface. European moles often construct shallow tunnels but rarely emerge above the ground. In the spring, however, males may leave their tunnel system at night and head overland in search of potential mates.

Distribution: Occurs in temperate parts of Europe, but is absent from Ireland and southern areas such as Italy. Extends eastwards into Russia, as far as the Ob and Irtysh rivers.

Habitat: Woodland, fields and meadows.

Weight: 72 - 128 g (0.53 oz); males slightly bigger.

Length: 14 - 20 cm (5.5 - 7.8 in) overall; tail is about a quarter of the body length.

Maturity: About 1 year.

Gestation Period: 33 days;. 1 litter a year; breeds March - May.

Breeding: 2 - 7, average 3; weaning occurs at 30 days.

Food: Invertebrates, but may occasionally eat mice.

Lifespan: Up to 5 years.

Status: Common.

Coat

The fur is short and black with a velvet texture. Only the nose is free of hair, although there are whiskers here.

Body

the body is cylindrical, to assist movement through tunnels.

Forelegs

Large and shovel-like, these are turned outwards and equipped with five claws.

Eyes

Small and inconspicuous, as befits a species living in underground burrows.

Mole hills

European moles will tunnel when searching for worms, pushing up the soil at intervals.

TUNNEL SYSTEMS

The mole's underground burrows are extensive, with females creating snug nests within their tunnel systems, where the young are born.

Gallery of European Mole