Welcome to the Trans Pennine Trail
A national coast to coast route for recreation and transport – for walkers, cyclists and (in parts) horse riders
Here’s all you need to know about Mandy Mole
What I look like – I am a short, black and have velvety fur. My body is cylinder in shape with big claws for my size and a short tail. I have no external ears, a pink nose and my eyes are minute because I spend most of my life underground. My mouth and nostrils face downwards so they don’t get full of soil. As our bodies have been developed for digging our forelegs cannot be used in the normal walking position and look like spades. We walk on the front edge and tend to drag our tummy along.
Lifespan / Young / Body Facts – I normally live for an average of three years. We only really live together during breeding season. Our average litter size is 3 – 4 but we can have up to seven. We normally grow from 9 – 16.5 cm. Our skull width is 11 to 13mm, measured across the cheek bones. Moles weigh between 72 and 128g. My teeth are different from the Blind Mole or the Roman Mole – that’s how the experts tell us apart.
I don’t have good eye sight or a good sense of smell but by body is very sensitive to touch and can detect vibrations in the soil to help me locate food.
What I eat – Worms, worms and more worms. Moles paralyse worms by damaging their nerve cord with a bite. We catch lots of worms alive and store them for future use when food is short. As a treat we also eat slugs, millipedes and insect larvae in the soil.
Where I live – I like to live in woodland, grassland and farmland and can be found in lots of places throughout the UK. You wouldn’t find me in waterlogged soil because I wouldn’t be able to burrow – or in acid soil because worms wouldn’t live there.
Moles make three different types of underground burrow. Two lie quite close to the surface and are called ‘shallow burrows’ or ‘mating burrows’. The third is a hunting burrow which contains the nest and lies in deeper soil. Burrows are oval and about 5 cm wide, 4cm high and they can be over 100cm deep. We can dig over 20m of tunnel every day. We line our nest with moss and leaves.
Molehills are the pushed up soil debris from the tunnels we dig and it is often here we hide our food.
Tracks – As we live mainly underground our tracks are seldom seen. We walk on the front edge of the forefoot, leaving the track of five claws in a slightly curved row. The hind foot is smaller than the forefoot and has five toes, all with long, narrow claws which form distinct marks in the track. Moles tread on the whole of the sole and the track is approx 1.5cm long and 1.1 cm wide. Here’s what my footprints look like. If you click here you can download a copy to take out on the Trail.
Other Facts – Did you know that many farmers and gardeners consider us as pests because we burrow through their land and they don’t like our mole hills? You won’t find me in Ireland or on the Scottish islands where there is little soil or wet soil.
If you find a molehill don’t kick it or knock it down as it could be covering up my babies.
Why not have a go at one of my masks? Remember – you may need to ask a grown-up for help, especially when cutting around the eyes. Click here for the Print and Colour page.