Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Mole

Despite living in France for nearly five years I had never seen a mole. I'd seen plenty of evidence of them but never a live animal. I was curious but unfortunately didn't get to meet one under happy circumstances. JC was trapping them.

They've been trapped for centuries. In the past, gloves and men's top hats were made from moleskin. It's a dense, soft, luxury fur. I haven't seen any moleskin products around though. I suppose the poor dead critters are just thrown on compost heaps or rubbish bins these days. Why do people trap them these days? Because they spoil the look of backyards and lawns and farmers' fields.

Moles are insectivores with a diet predominantly that of earthworms. Their saliva contains a toxin that can paralyse earthworms so they can be stored in the moles' underground larders for later munching. Polydactyl (extra thumbs) they have powerful shovel-like front paws rather out of proportion to the rest of them. Their eyes are mostly hidden by fur and they have no external ears. They don't hibernate and mate only once a year.

Moles are solitary creatures that need to eat regularly. They can die of starvation after 12 hours. The females have ovotestes which produce a lot of testosterone making them aggressively protective of their young.
JC called me over to see a mole he had trapped. It had been caught by the shoulder which was probably crushed, but the powerful energy in the little beast was evident. It's not a cuddly critter and with its eyes hidden seems rather odd but I still felt compassion. I don't like hurting and killing things, especially mammals (though snails and slugs don't get any mercy from me). After satisfying my curiosity JC put it on the ground. Too slowly I turned away. JC put his boot on its head. No, no I said, though I knew it was no use to plead for it.

I couldn't watch that. He left it there for his dog, blood smears and all. I didn't like that either. The dog didn't find it so JC told me to bring the little rubbish bin from the kitchen. What? He was OK with the little dead body sitting in the rubbish bin by the bench. I was not. Once a hunter and trapper always a hunter and trapper I suppose, but I'll keep my sensitivity thanks. I hope the earthworms in my future vegetable garden will be relieved by the demise of the mole but I know there will be moles imprudent enough to build molehills like erupting volcanoes all over JC's property in the future. There are no effective removal strategies other than trapping. JC used mole deterrent vibration-makers in the past to no effect.

Here are two videos. The one in French is worth watching as it's comprehensive and fascinating even if you don't understand French. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov5j-GCEh14 The other video is less informative but is in English.  Follow this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-7lxvhr_Wg 


Anonymous said...

My mom used to have a dog that hunted moles in our backyard. He would find it, sometimes kill it, and then try to bring it to us. Not fun. He didn't try to eat it or anything. Just bring it to us. The poor little guys.


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