Thursday, March 30, 2006

Of Mice and Moles

My neighbors and I are afflicted with moles. I didn’t really mind them until this year. The occasional mole hill is unsightly and treading on their tunnels can make one seasick, but my focus was on the flowerbeds, not the lawn. Eventually, though, they discovered the nicely tilled soil of my gardens and earned my eternal wrath. As they burrow beneath my perennials in search of worms and grubs, they disturb the roots’ contact with the soil and cause the plants to gasp for water and nutrients. I’ve declared war on the buggers.

Now that we have FIVE cats, I thought that my kitties would take care of the problem. They are quite the little hunters. I actually had one neighbor thank me for bringing Cleo into the area because he noticed a significant decline in the mole activity in his lawn. (I think they just moved to my yard, instead.) Mr. Tibbs and Zoro spend hours with their arms inside mole holes or patiently watching the earth heave as one of the rodents burrows just beneath the soil. They’ve brought me two moles this year, along with assorted voles, mice and shrews. Noticing that they had brought me both a mommy and a daddy mole, I thought my mole problem was licked. (Impressed that I can accurately sex a mole? Let me tell you, it isn’t hard. I can only suppose that it is because their blind that their sexual organs are so very obvious.)

I don’t know if mommy mole managed to have a litter already, if the kitties’ offerings were from another yard, or if we are hosting multiple mole families, but the mole presence remains. I’ve considered the many other methods of mole control, from folkloric (juicy fruit gum) to chemical (gassing the tunnels) to mechanical (traps), but none are effective AND foolproof. I did happen upon a method only recommended for those with a strong stomach: the pitchfork/shovel method. This involves patrolling the yard with a pitchfork or shovel, watching for the telltale heaving of the soil. Once a digging mole is located, you thrust the weapon into the earth and, depending on your tool, impale the bugger or cut him in half. Barbaric, yes, but primitively satisfying.

Yesterday I had consumed enough Captain Morgan’s to give the technique a whirl. I was moving containers around on the deck when I spotted Mr. Tibbs carefully watching the earth move nearby. I ran to the garage and grabbed a shovel. Upon returning to the backyard, I crept up beside Mr. Tibbs. (The creeping was entirely unnecessary. The mole didn’t seem to sense any danger.) I’m not sure if it was squeamishness or just a cruel wish to watch the mole slowly die, but I decided to stab my shovel in the earth just behind the heaving and expose the rodent for Mr. Tibbs to finish off. The blade bit easily into the freshly disturbed earth and I flung the dirt aside. Lo and behold, I exposed an enormous gray mole. Neither Mr. Tibbs nor I were quick enough to get him before he dove into another tunnel and escaped. Although I kept watch, I saw no mole sign for the rest of the evening.

I’ve discovered a newfound bloodlust. I’m not normally a violent person, but I am sincerely looking forward to my next hunting expedition. Mr. Tibbs or Zoro will be my pointers, but they won’t get to make the kill. Next time, I plan on hitting the center of movement with my shovel blade and claiming the glory for myself. The moles will fear me!

For more information on mole control, Tom Clothier’s page on moles contains some of the most comprehensive advice I’ve seen on the internet.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our previous home was visited by the dreaded "Moles". My husband would watch for hours with shovel in hand and then smush the little suckers. One morning about 7am I heard gunfire!! and there he was in the front yard with a shot gun. He had a big smile on his face as he said proudly "I got him". We have since moved and our son is living in that house. He used to laugh at his Dad, but now he is in the same position. He waits with shovel in hand. These dudes are really destructive. Good Luck on getting them.


7:15 PM  
Blogger Poppy said...

I've been reading your blog with great enjoyment for a couple of months now. You always make me laugh out loud. YOu have a delightful sense of humor!

Good luck with the moles..go get 'em!

9:32 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Ohmygod, mole penis! I had no idea they were so, um, well-endowed. Ick.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Linda said...

Saw what I think is a mole last our back yard noseing around like he was hungry. I had no idea what he was.... I just guessed. But the pictures I saw didn't quite look the same but close enough I guessed..Same tail, same nose, however I did not see the feet..I can't imagine slugging one with a shovel...chasing it off would be more my speed...but we have gophers too and how do you tell the difference between the holes they make in the ground. Will pellet guns kill them???? I'm totally ignorant...when it comes to this.

Linda (in southern califonia)
9:51 a.m.

9:58 AM  
Blogger MjMaddox said...

Last year I hired a mole catcher. When he proudly brought me a dead mole on a shovel, I was overwhelmed with guilt and told him I didn't want him to keep hunting.

Moles are helpful creatures. Check out this link for suggestions for getting rid of moles, but also information about the benefits of permitting them to do their thing:

11:27 AM  

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