There are around 20 different species of moles, most commonly found in Europe (but not Ireland), Asia, South Africa, North America and Canada
The common garden mole needs a lot of food to survive and spends up to half of its life searching for it, with an estimated 40 pounds of food making up a moles yearly intake. That’s a lot of food for such a little creature! They can also travel up to half a mile a day searching for food throughout the tunnels that they have made.
The Star-nosed Mole, found in parts of Canada, can find, catch and eat its prey in less than a second, under 300 milliseconds to be precise – That’s faster than the human eye can follow! But “common moles” are a little slower than that, with poor eyesight from living underground they have to rely strongly on their keen sense of smell to find and catch their prey.
Moles find there food in the soil, eating mostly earthworms as well as some other small invertebrates and insects such as of beetles, slugs, grubs, ants, sow bugs (woodlice), centipedes and insect larvae. Occasionally the mole may make up a small portion of its diet with vegetation including seeds but the earthworm makes up the vast majority of the diet.
Even though moles are considered insectivorous, or omnivores, occasionally larger species will also eat small mice and baby birds; this would usually be when one falls through an entrance to the burrow – It’s just too good a chance to miss when food drops right through your door!
Interestingly enough, a moles saliva contains a toxin that can paralyze earthworms and other small animals so that any living pray that is caught can be saved for later consumption if it not eaten straight away.
Before eating earthworms a mole will pull one between its paws so as to squeeze the collected earth and dirt out of the worm’s gut.
Special underground “larders” are constructed to store the live, paralyzed prey – Researchers have been known to uncover such larders with over a thousand earthworms stored in them. This storage facility is useful to have when the moles go out and collect extra food ready for the winter months.
So, don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill when you wake up one morning and see little mounds of earth all over your lawn! Be thankful that this creature will eat many of the garden pests for you so that you don’t have to worry as much about insects attacking your vegetables or nibbling at your flowers!