Ode to the Life of a Mole
Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be a mole? I’m talking about the animal! Okay, not many people probably wonder about this because the only time most people even think about moles is when they are cursing them out because of the numerous molehills that appeared out of nowhere during the wee hours of the night in their lawns.
I’m not like most people! I find all critters fascinating, and this morning I was completely mesmerized all because of a mole and I am proud to admit it!
It began with my morning routine. Every morning I go to the backyard and put a bit of bird food on the ground for my local black-eyed juncos, towhees, black-capped chickadees, and ultimately the squirrels. Well, this morning as I was tossing out the bird food, a small portion of earth began moving from underneath not far from where I was standing. It was the coolest thing to witness.
The dirt would rise and fall, rise and fall. A twisting turning trail was quickly being developed beneath the surface. I was suddenly transported into this dark mysterious world I was quietly witnessing. I was mesmerized!
My mind quickly began to wonder ~ what critter could be creating this dark underground highway? A mouse? A mole? Definitely not Clark the Mountain Beaver because the trail was much too small.
As I pondered this deep sense of wonder, suddenly a small portion of earth began to cave into the newly made tunnel below and a hole appeared. As I waited in anticipation for the mysterious critter to appear, a long tiny naked nose popped through to take a quick whiff of fresh air. Following the nose were two pair of feet with crazy long nails grasping each side of the hole, and then in a flash it was gone. All that was left was an empty hole again.
Mystery solved…no doubt about it, a mole.
As the mole continued to twist and turn below the surface, only to quickly pop through an eventual new hole, I realized each time the mole emerged, it was sniffing the air to better detect where the food was. As it did this, it changed direction slowly and methodically towards the food that was initially behind it from whence it began. Once it finally reached its desired destination, the seed and nuts tumbled into the tunnel below. Success….mole style!
As with most animals with poor eyesight, their sense of smell is keen. Moles, in fact, smell in stereo! That means each nostril operates independently of the other sending different signals to the brain to be computed to determine the direction of an odor, aka food. Who knew?
So think about this. This is what is so amazing. This critter spends its entire life underground! It has small eyes with poor vision ~ not much to see in a subterranean world. Small hips that allow for turning around in tight places. Reversible velvet-like fur to make backing up easier. Broad curved front feet with toes sprouting crazy long outward-facing claws to make digging an easy task. So easy, in fact, they can dig tunnels at a rate of 15 feet per hour! Perfectly designed for the life before them.
Now, I know most people think moles are just a nuisance so I am here to give moles their moment in the sun!
EVERY critter has value even if we cannot see it at first.
As for the mole, they play a vital part to the health and well being of the landscape. Their extensive tunneling system and mound building mixes the nutrients within the soil improving soil aeration and drainage. Although most North American moles are insectivorous, Washington species, of which there are three, have been found to be omnivorous. A mole’s diet consists mostly of the so-called pests that thrive in our lawns ~ all the creepy crawly ones! Moles spend their days and nights patrolling their vast array of tunnels in search of prey that either use or have fallen into their tunnels.
This is a critter that goes about its life, mostly unseen, ultimately benefiting the earth with the occasional upset to us mere humans. But today, this human stood in marvel of this little critter sending it gratitude for being a good steward of the earth, and for giving me a brief moment to witness its life in action. To small mighty moles of the animal kind everywhere, and to their uncanny ability to move earth, I thank you for a wondrous morning!
* Photo by Dirk (Beeki®) Schumacher