Identifying Moles at your Durham Home
Moles are some of the most common critters around us. They’ve been immortalized in such classics as Caddyshack and Austin Powers. However, despite their unassuming appearance and humorous reputation, they can be very harmful to home and yard. Identification and proper control is key to managing their population and potential for damage. There are 2 major mole species in the Triad/Triangle area, the eastern mole and the star-nosed mole. A third mole, the hairy-tailed mole, exists in North Carolina but in the mountains at higher elevations.
The eastern mole is the most common mole species in the United States. It is small, rather round and brown in color. It has a fleshy, hairless snout with nostrils that are used for touch. It doesn’t appear to have eyes, but they are hidden under the fur with fused eyelids. These can’t see but can distinguish light from dark. They have large, broad claws, relative to their size, that are ideal for digging. The moles have a fairly long, rat-like tail and short, brown fur. They are also small, ranging in weight from 2-3 ounces.
The star-nosed mole is much less common, but much stranger looking. It has developed a “star nose” consisting of 22 appendages radiating from a central point and covered with tiny sensory receptors. These are used for sensing prey, feeling around and even smelling underwater. The star-nosed mole, aside from it’s obvious nose, appears very similar to the eastern mole except it is about 40% smaller.
The eastern mole prefers loamy soils, such as a healthy lawn. They live in thin woods, pastures, meadows etc… or just any place with lower clay and rock content that support worms, grubs and beetles. They generally don’t live in overly dry or wet soils either, golf courses end up with mole problems because they generally have very high-quality soils. The star-nosed mole prefers wet, lowland areas and eats a larger range of prey such as mollusks and small amphibians or fish. The star-nosed mole is an adept swimmer and forages along the bottom of streams or ponds. Both moles dig shallow tunnels and burrows through dirt and throw discarded soil into piles known commonly as “molehills” which are key identifiers of the presence.
Mole Removal and Fixing Damage
A popular and humane control method is eliminating the moles’ food source. Moles feed mainly on grubs and earthworms so insecticides that specifically target and eliminate those insects will force the mole to go elsewhere in search of food. Another control method is digging a couple foot deep trench and filling it with gravel or a mesh screen to prevent burrowing through it.
In North Carolina, eastern moles are considered pest species under law so rodenticide may be used to kill them. Star-nosed moles cannot be killed or poisoned and therefore must leave on their own or be trapped with a depredation permit. In most instances. in order to successfully eliminate moles, they need to be killed or captured. The best way to control moles is to consult an expert and have a custom program tailored specifically to your situation.
Do Moles Carry Disease?
Moles can be carriers of diseases such as rabies, however it is very rare. It is possible they could carry parasites or tapeworm, however this is also very rare. If they are carrying any disease, the likely victim would be a pet but unlikely a person as they rarely interact with people.
Whats the difference between moles and voles?
If you’re noticing damage in your yard or maybe some critters running around and you’re not sure what what to do, just visit this page where we explain how to identify moles vs. voles. Find out more about the differences between moles and voles.