How many times have you heard "What you need to do is ..." ?
There are many old wives tales and gems of advice on the only or best way to be rid of a mole. Here we consider a few of the most common of these and look at them from a mole's point of view. The point of view that most readily exposes these "words of wisdom" in their true light.
Windmills vibrating in the soil, musical cards and electronics. A vast array of gadgets is available in retail outlets, all claiming to scare or chase the mole from its chosen spot and all eagerly purchased in the bid to regain a prize lawn or productive vegetable patch.
A mole senses its environment in a way that is very different to that of most other mammals, relying on different senses to feel its way, find food and when the time is right, to find a mate. The mole feels its environment through an acute nervous system stimulated by the hairs on its body. Vibrations tell the mole of movement in and around its network of tunnels and on the ground above. The mole interprets these vibrations as either a food source (worms are the preferred food, as well as other bugs and grubs - all eagerly consumed) or a predator threat. (The natural predator of a mole is the weasel which is small enough to squeeze through the tunnels to hunt the mole).
Anything that makes or influences vibrations, when placed or poked into the mole's environment, is relying on the mole believing a predator has entered the area and will, therefore, flee for safety. This is true - for a short time anyway.
The mole is a wild animal running the risk of predation each and every day. Constant vibrations will soon be interpreted not as a threat (as no real threat has materialised) but food! You may have seen the results of this as the mole, encouraged by the constant vibrations, begins to create an area of damage around the source of the vibrations in search of food. Other soil dwelling animals are stimulated by vibrations - principally worms. Evidence of this can be seen when birds stamp upon the ground in nature's "river dance" as they entice the worms to the surface. So the device emitting the vibrations begins to draw the worms towards it thereby providing a "restaurant" where any mole will happily dine.
Are vibrations encouraging a mole to a garden near you?
The mole is a haemophiliac and will bleed profusely if cut, bitten or punctured. This is the principle many have used to try to deter or be rid a mole. The mole lives in an environment of low oxygen levels and has a large amount of red blood cells to provide its body with the life giving oxygen required to survive.
Rose cuttings, holly even broken glass are often found (painfully) by the hands of an un-suspecting molecatcher - items left in the ground after someone else's effort to control a mole. Do sharp objects deployed in this manner work?
The mole's skin is covered by its famous velvet fur. Without any lay in this fur coat, the mole can twist and turn in the tight tunnels with no difficulty. Under the fur is a skin tough enough to make cloth, wipe hot lead pipe joints and protect the mole from sharp objects naturally found in the ground. In its everyday life the mole will dig in a variety of soils, passing over, between and around buried waste such as tile, brick and glass. It will squeeze through chipped and broken flint, and brush past rusty sheaves of steel.
Do sharp objects work? Definitely not!
Phew!!! That stinks
Many believe that an obnoxious smell will cause the mole to leave because the mole has an acute sense of smell. Moles do sense odours and may well try to avoid those that seem a little over-powering.
The number and types of substances that are pumped and poured into the ground to deter moles are an environmentalist's nightmare; diesel, fence preservative, mothballs, granny's bath water to name a few. But do any of them work?
First of all, let's consider the location these concoctions are to be used in, soil, an absorbent substrate that will do just that - absorb. Contaminating an area of soil, however large or small, with an obnoxious taint that the mole will (providing it is not strangely attracted by the contaminant) tunnel around, over or under simply presents no hazard to the mole.
Moles having created an area that they can use to sustain themselves are reluctant to be deterred by a short period of putting up with a smell, a smell that will diminish very quickly when acted on by moisture in the soil, wind and new rainfall. Contamination in the tunnels will result in more mole damage as the mole blocks tunnels to keep out the contaminant and creates fresh tunnels that both the mole and its food will delight in inhabiting.