Moles

Recent visitors to Camp Salmen may have detected unusually, soft, spongy ground under foot and looked down to find there was a long, crooked hump in the soil. This was a temporary tunnel left by an Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus) after one of its hunting forays beneath the turf. These animals actually nest in more permanent tunnels deeper underground that provide wintertime insulation for the non-hibernating mammal. For your information: mole daddies are called boars, mole mamas are called sows and their children are called pups.

 

Ma and Pa are "King and Queen of the Underground" by being royal terrors in their subterranean realm, attacking and consuming about anything they happen to encounter: centipedes, worms, spiders, snails, insects and their larvae. The hyperkinetic little beasts dig and dig and eat their bodyweight every day. Earthworms are their favorite (all muscle and no bones) as are beetle grubs like the ones that become June Bugs. Just like rabbits and squirrels, moles are (and here's a favorite word) crepuscular - only active at dawn and dusk - though, they have been known to dart from the ground in the dead of night like a bad nightmare to grab a baby bird or mouse from its nest in the grass.

 

Because moles spend most of their lives in the dark they don't have much need to see and have only tiny, almost non-existent eyes. These are only good for letting them know if they have blundered above ground during daylight and have become vulnerable to predators, angry lawn owners or children. If they do get in a confrontation, their secret weapon is to exude a terrible stink that will hopefully disgust the attacker enough that he or she will go away. Plus, mole meat tastes really awful.

 

 

Moles are equipped with a huge pair of forepaws that shovel dirt away from in front of their highly sensitive noses used to determine just what it is they have encountered. The mole eats its victim quickly as it pushes the dirt aside with a broad, arcing motion not unlike a swimmer's breaststroke and uses their smaller hind legs to shove it behind them. Their strength is about forty times their bodyweight, allowing them to move through dirt surprisingly quickly.

 

 

Other anatomical adaptations moles have for living in the soil include the lack of external ears, otherwise they'd get pretty clogged up with dirt plus they don't need them because things are pretty quiet down there. Their exceedingly fine, short, soft fur (which is actually collected for use in coats) does not lay in any particular direction because the animal is always backing up and turning around and would otherwise have a hard time keeping up its appearances.

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