Moles live underground and inhabit the lawns of residential homes, golf courses, cemeteries, and parks, as well as fallow fields, forest edges, or pastures where moist, sandy loam soils are common and digging is easy.

The type of soil, its moisture content, and the availability of food all can limit mole activity. In general, moles tend to avoid heavy clay or stony, coarse gravel soils where tunneling is difficult. Similarly, areas with soils that are either too dry or too wet to maintain the structure of their tunnel system usually are avoided.

 

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Here in the Pacific NorthWest we have the following moles:

 

Townsend’s Mole
220px-scapanus_townsendiiTotal Length – 7 3/4 – 9 1/4inches
Tail Length – 1 1/4 – 2 inches
Weight – 4 3/8 – 7 3/8 ounces

 

The Townsend’s Mole is a large mole with black fur, and a short, thick, nearly naked tail and snout. Its eyes are tiny but visible. This mole has 11 upper teeth on each side, with unicuspids crowded and uneven.  The Townsend’s Mole eats earthworms but also snails, slugs, centipedes, insects, and unintended vegetation, all of which you will find in it’s native habitat of fields and lawns.  By far, the Townsend’s Mole is the primary culprit of the mole hills that we see in the Willamette Valley.

 

Shrew Mole
shrew_mole_neurotrichus_gibbsii-jpegTotal Length – 4 – 5  inches
Tail Length – 1 1/4 – 1 5/8 inches
Weight – 1/4 – 3/8 ounces

 

The Shrew Mole is the smallest mole in North America, and is characterized by the size and shape of its shrew-like forefeet but it has the large head and dental structure of a mole.  It has gray fur, and its long, harry tail is about half it’s body length.  It prefers the deep, soft, moist ,soil of rainforests or other brushy wet areas. It is unique among moles in being able to climb low bushes, exploring for insects.  Earthworms, sow bugs, beetles, insect larvae, and some vegetation make up it’s diet.

 

Coast/Pacific Mole
coast_mole_scapanus_orarius-jpegTotal Length – 5 3/4 – 6 7/8 inches
Tail Length – 1 – 1 5/8 inches
Weight – 2 1/4 – 3 5/8 ounces

 

The Coast Mole has velvety black fur, a pointed snout and a short nearly hairless tail. Its front paws are broad and spade-shaped, specialized for digging; the rear paws are smaller. It is similar in appearance to the larger Townsend’s Mole. This mole spends most of its time underground, foraging in shallow burrows for earthworms, small invertebrates and some plant material.