The European mole is also known as a Common Mole or Northern Mole and is a small mammal related to shrews. It is a small burrowing animal between 9cm and 17cm in length and weighting up to 128g with black velvet like fur but other colours such as grey or even white have been known as having lighter coloured fur is not a disadvantage to an underground creature. It has a rounded body shape with powerful front limbs well equipped for burrowing with a spade like shape and strong claws, while its back legs are weak and under developed as the mole drags or swims its way through the earth. The European mole has small eyes but is not blind, a well developed sense of smell aided by a pink snout and a small tail, and the moles ears are very small. The European mole is totally subterranean creating up to 20 meters of tunnels a day hence the characteristic mole hills of displaced earth. Within these tunnels the mole creates larger chambers lined with dry grass for sleeping and breeding. Males expand territories during the breeding season and this is the only time these solitary animals come together. The young are born in the summer and normally number 3 or 4 being weaned from their mother’s milk in about 3 weeks. They have a life expectancy of about 3 years.
Moles constantly expand their tunnel network as they hunt mainly eating earth worms but also insects, slugs, snails and even larger prey such as small lizards or young snakes.
In the UK moles are very widespread living anywhere the soil is deep and soft enough to allow tunnels. Interestingly they are not found in Ireland or on many of the islands off the UK coast. They are common in Europe and into East Asia but not found in several Mediterranean countries such Albania and the Iberian Peninsular.
Common moles are considered a pest by farmers, gardeners, and recreational venues such as Golf Clubs due to the disruption caused by mole hills; they have no legal protection in the UK and are frequently poisoned as pest control.