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They can totally mess up your garden with their digging: the mole. The European mole, Talpa europaea, is a subterranean, non-endangered mammal in the mole family, Talpidae.


There are a number of species of moles in the world. The mole falls under the family Eulipotyphla, a group of mammals that includes mostly insectivores. The Eulipotyphla include hedgehogs, moles, shrews and solenodons. The family of moles is also called Talpidae. There are 3 mole families containing a total of about 51 mole species scattered throughout the world.

European mole

In the Netherlands, you will primarily encounter the European mole, the Talpa europeae. The scientific name of the European mole was established by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. A medium-sized mole species with short, velvety black fur.

Habitat of moles in the Netherlands

The European mole – as its name implies – occurs in Europe. Its habitat is fairly large, from England to the Ob and Irtysh in Western Siberia. The European mole is missing in Ireland, Albania, Greece, Italy, Corsica, Portugal, Iceland and most parts of Spain and Scandinavia. In the Netherlands, you can find the mole in all sorts of places. As long as there is a place where they can raise their young and where there is enough soil to dig, they can live there. They can be found anywhere they can dig, up to 2,000 meters high in the Alps.

Outward characteristics of the European mole

In terms of appearance, the European mole’s pitch-black fur immediately stands out, although there is also a 1% chance of another color. Thanks to a random placement of hairs in the skin, a mole can move forward and backward through the corridors as easily. This is unlike most mammals in which the hairs are placed in a specific direction. It has a small tail that always points upward.

Further notable about the mole are its large front legs transformed into digging hands. Each paw has 5 fingers with pointed nails and a thumb with which the mole can deftly dig through the ground.

The mole has small, poorly developed eyes only 1 millimeter in diameter. But the mole is not blind, even though many people think so. Nevertheless, the mole uses its eyes little and mainly uses its pointed pink snout with sensitive whiskers and tactile nerves.

Similar animals

Two families that resemble the mole in appearance and build due to the fact that they dig a lot, yet are otherwise related to the mole, are the gold moles (Chrysochloridae) from Africa and the pouch moles (Notoryctidae) from Australia.


The mole can be found anywhere where the soil is suitable enough to burrow in. In other words, the soil should not be too sandy, moist or stony. There must also be plenty of earthworms for them to eat. The best locations for this are deciduous forests and grasslands. Consequently, the mole prefers to live its entire life underground. A mole will rarely leave its burrow, only to search for a new territory or to catch insects above ground when necessary. In addition, moles are also good swimmers.

What do moles eat

Moles primarily eat earthworms, but also any other animals the mole may encounter underground. Think of maggots, slugs, other mollusks, insect larvae and so on. If given the chance, a mole may also grab a vertebrate, such as a frog. For fall and winter, the mole stockpiles food by biting off the head of earthworms, paralyzing them.

Enemies of the mole

Below ground, the mole is safe and has no natural enemies except other conspecifics. Above ground, however, life is a lot more dangerous, where it can be hunted by birds of prey such as the owl, buzzard, blue heron and stork, among others. But other hunters such as the weasel, fox and ermine also eat moles.

An unnatural enemy of the mole when it is underground is a hunter who wants to hunt the mole explicitly with hunting dogs where the dog digs the mole out or enters the tunnels.

Reproduction and longevity

In the mole, males seek out females. They leave their territories to search for females, then in May or June – after a gestation period of 28 days – the young are born. The young are cared for only by the mother.

After two months, the young are independent enough to find their own territory and leave the nest. In the process, moles may get into fights with each other, which often happens above ground. After 11 months, young moles are sexually mature.

On average, a mole lives to be about 3 years old, but if conditions are favorable, it is also possible to reach an age of about 7 years.


Due to their digging behavior, moles can cause a lot of damage to people’s lawns and gardens. It starts with a single bump in your yard, but if you suddenly see many molehills appear within a short span of time, then a mole has chosen your yard to live in. A mole’s hunting territory can extend up to 500 meters around the nest. A small advantage is that they eat many insects, but of course the molehills are also not pleasant for your garden and do not look pretty.

Fortunately, the European mole does not carry any diseases and is therefore not harmful or dangerous to humans.


The mole is an animal that is widely controlled because of its destructive behavior in gardens and lawns. Animal-friendly ways to get rid of moles is by spreading the flower of the emperor’s crown, this smells like foxes and deters the moles. It can also help to bury pots and bottles in molehills. The wind blows long the glass, creating a whistling sound. A mole has sensitive ears and finds this very annoying so it will look for another place to live.

Less animal-friendly ways are to place mole traps in the corridor. The mole lands in the trap and is – hopefully – instantly dead. Other methods include broken glass, pins with electrical voltage and poison gas, but these can cause the mole to die a slow death, making a properly functioning trap a better choice.

For moles, again, if the above methods don’t work, look into bringing in a professional.

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