28/04/2021

Moles and molehills

There are 31-40 million moles in England, Wales and mainland Scotland, where it is a native species, but none in Northern Ireland or the smaller islands such as the Scilly Isles. It is the only mammal that lives almost entirely underground, where it loops through 4 hours’ activity followed by 4 hours’ sleep.

The adult mole is 6in. long with a short tail, omnidirectional fur and out-turned front paws ideal for a breaststroke style of digging. Whilst its sight and hearing are poor, its senses of touch, smell and navigation are excellent. It can tunnel up to 65ft. per day and, in so doing, pushes up little mounds of clean soil, called molehills, every few feet. Although it does not eat plant roots, its tunnels can damage them. This annoys farmers, gardeners and sports pitch caretakers alike.

In their defence, they keep the worm and grub population down and their tunnels aerate the soil, thereby improving its fertility. Molehills are only made once in a location and they can simply be shovelled away. It could be that critics are ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’ ~ a 16th century saying meaning that far too much fuss is being made of an insignificant matter!

(Image: Beeki at pixabay.com)