According to the classification accepted in biology, moles are a family from the order of shrews. Everyone who likes to spend time in the village or just in nature is familiar with them. Moles leave characteristic piles of soil, indicating where they emerge from the ground to the surface. Often, many gardeners and gardeners blame these animals for damaging the crop, but is this true? What do moles eat in natural conditions and how right are their accusers?
Moles inhabiting Russia have a body length of up to 21 centimeters, and a weight of no more than 170 grams. They are perfectly adapted to the underground way of life: the body of the animal is oblong, and the wool does not grow obliquely, as in the inhabitants of the surface, but "upright", perpendicular to the surface of the skin. This feature allows the mole to move equally well in the underground passages dug by it, both forward and backward. The color of the "fur coat" is dark: black, deep brown or dark gray.
The strong forelegs have a spade-like appearance and are well adapted for tearing the ground. The eyes are deprived of the retina and lens; in some species, they even grow overgrown as unnecessary. Instead, the mole has well-developed other senses: smell and touch. With an underground lifestyle, they are more important for the animal.
The main mole "bed" - the nesting chamber - is located at a rather great depth - one and a half to two meters. Both she and the ring galleries around are dug without ejection of earth to the surface. The mole simply squeezes in the ground, compacting the walls of the course with its body. He lined the bed with dry grass and leaves. The well-known heaps of earth are traces of ejection to the surface of the soil from the so-called forage passages - a kind of underground pastures.
These passages are narrow and very long. They can even stretch for several hundred meters! Moles live alone, joining in pairs only in the mating season. The female brings up to eight cubs, which at the age of two months are already ready for independent life. The animal's winter diet differs little from the summer one. Let's figure it out: what does a mole eat and how dangerous are its gastronomic preferences for a personal plot?
What do they eat
Probably, it will be strange for many, but moles are purebred predators, they do not perceive plant food. And although moles occasionally and in very small quantities can eat the roots of individual plants, this does not make them herbivores, like wolves, which, with the help of plant food, occasionally make up for the lack of vitamins or simply heal the stomach. And moles feed on all the living creatures they can find underground:
- insect larvae;
- wood lice
- and the like "rascals" who spoil your harvest.
Of all the listed creatures that make up the mole diet, only earthworms help improve aeration (air saturation) of the soil, loosening it. Others create a lot of problems for gardeners. So, moles on a personal plot are good? Alas, not everything is so simple. In full accordance with the principle of dualism, the presence of a mole has not only positive, but also negative aspects.
The main reason why gardeners do not like moles is a large number of feed passages. Moles, "plowing" the area, not only improve air circulation in the upper layers of the soil, but also destroy the root system of a number of plants. In addition, the abundance of feed passages increases the risk of twisting or even breaking a leg by falling into one of them. Therefore, it is still better when these mammals bypass your site.
Moles, like all insectivores, devour huge amounts of food. Each day, everyone eats not much less than their own weight. They must eat almost constantly, a maximum of 17 hours of fasting - and the animal dies. Interestingly, during the cold period, moles eat mainly earthworms, "canning" them in an interesting way: biting off their heads and putting the immobilized bodies in special pantries. In one of these "storehouses", the researchers found several hundred worms.
How to deal with moles
If, after evaluating the ratio of the benefits and harm brought by the moles, you nevertheless decided to get rid of them, then there are several ways for this. The most effective are modern gadgets - emitters of various types, which are installed along the perimeter of the site. At the same time, methods that have been tested for centuries are also used that affect the sense of smell and hearing of the animal. However, such methods are not so effective.
For example, rags soaked in various foul-smelling substances: ammonia or kerosene are placed in the aft passages. Or simply - rotten herring. And to influence the hearing of animals, home-made structures from metal tubes and cans dug into the ground are used. True, it is not at all a fact that, having temporarily retreated, the moles will not return to open new passages in order to get rid of unpleasant smells and sounds.
And, finally, the most humane way of fighting. Representatives of the legume family are planted along the perimeter of the site - beans, peas or lupins. Then the animals leave on their own, because for some reason the moles really do not like their neighborhood. True, in this case, you will have to deal with the pests remaining on the site on your own..