Eastern Mole: Scalopus Aquaticus
Description Of The Eastern Mole
An average of about 4 ounces in weight and 7 inches in length is the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus). Their body is covered with thick, velvety fur that ranges from black to silver to copper in color.
They have a short, round tail, which instead of hair, is covered in scales. With webbing between the toes, moles have large front feet that aid in digging. The hind feet, with slender, sharp claws, are small and narrow. They have a hairless, pointed snout that extends nearly half an inch in front of the opening of the mouth. They have no visible eyes, and in their fur are concealed ear openings. 1Go To Source outdooralabama.com -“Eastern Mole”
Learn More: Pest Mole Species
Eastern Mole Behavior
In underground tunnel systems, Eastern moles inhabit and only occasionally go above ground. It is beneath the ground that they find shelter and food. For most of the year, eastern moles are solitary animals, defending their tunnels from others, until males search for mates in neighboring tunnels in late March or early April.
The eastern moles are crepuscular, meaning its active at all hours, but activity peaks around dusk and dawn. To find their way around and to detect prey, they use their acute senses of touch and smell. Moles do not hibernate because their burrows are usually below the frost, and they stay active in winter. They make high-pitched squeals, harsh and guttural squeaks, brief snorting sounds, and they scratch their teeth. 2Go To Source animalia.bio -“Eastern Mole”
Burrowing Habits Of Eastern Moles
Both just below the soil surface and at deeper levels, the mole digs tunnels. With the front legs, digging is done, using them to push aside soil. A mole can dig as much as 18 feet in one hour in good soil conditions. For finding food, Shallow tunnels are dug. For nesting and resting, deeper burrows are dug. By completing a slow somersault, a mole can turn around inside a tunnel. 3Go To Source illinois.gov -“eastern mole Scalopus aquaticus”
Eastern Mole Reproduction Cycle
The female eastern mole has a litter of three to five youngsters after about 44 days of being pregnant. Litters are born at any time between late February and early June. Moles only have one litter a year.
In a plant-lined nest/burrow in one of the more resonant chambers, the young are born without fur. Until they are about four weeks old, they will stay in the nest. They are adult-sized by the age of three months, and they can breed at the end of their first year. 4Go To Source in.gov -“Eastern Mole”
Habitat Of The Eastern Mole
The Eastern Mole occupies various habitats throughout its range, from open forests to open fields, where the soil is sufficiently soft to allow the construction of tunnels. It appears that both shade and appropriate types of soil are required. Eastern Moles use cultivated land, but only at the edges of hedgerows or forests, where tunnels can spread into cultivated fields up to 3 m from shaded areas.
Eastern Moles are most frequently found in suitable soils in forested areas and along wooded or brushed hedgerows/watercourses or open drains where sufficient cover may have been provided by a single tree or clump of bushes.
In sites with suitable soils and a high proportion of forest in the landscape, moles are more likely to occur; the amount of forest cover in the vicinity of the mole tunnels appears less critical. With the amount of forest within the landscape, the likelihood of moles being recorded on appropriate soils and vegetation that was open and grassy increased. 5Go To Source sararegistry.gc.ca -“COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Eastern Mole Scalopus aquaticus in Canada “
Eastern Mole Range
Across much of the eastern United States, the eastern mole occurs in suitable habitats. It ranges from southern Ontario, southeastern Wyoming, south to southern Florida, the Gulf Coast, Minnesota, Michigan, and Massachusetts, and west to western Texas and northern Mexico. 6Go To Source discoverlife.org -“Eastern Mole”
Diet Of Eastern Moles
Larval insects and earthworms are the principal foods of eastern moles. Similar to shrews, eastern moles will also eat insects, snails, and other invertebrates found during tunnel excavation. Although very little vegetation is consumed directly, some plants may be killed indirectly due to root exposure or disturbance during tunnel excavation.
What Kind Of Damage Can An Eastern Mole Create?
Moles cause damage during burrowing activities, particularly on golf course greens, in grasslands, and in situations where accelerated soil erosion may result. In addition, by burrowing along a line and killing the plants, they may destroy row crops.
However, it must be remembered that the mole usually searches for animal food and that the larval insects that are taken often do far more real damage to the vegetation than the mole does. For example, larval June beetles feed on grasses’ roots and may, if present in large numbers, destroy the sod in an area completely. The mole’s burrowing operations also tend to aerate the soil, with beneficial plant results. 8Go To Source depts.ttu.edu -“EASTERN MOLE Scalopus aquaticus (Linnaeus 1758)”
- Allen, Frank. “Eastern Mole.” Outdoor Alabama, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Nov. 2006, www.outdooralabama.com/insectivores/eastern-mole.
- “Eastern Mole – Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures on Animalia.Bio.” Animalia, Animalia, animalia.bio/eastern-mole. Accessed 2 Feb. 2021.
- “Eastern Mole Scalopus Aquaticus.” Illinois.Gov, © Illinois Department of Natural Resources, www2.illinois.gov/dnr/education/CDIndex/EasternMole.pdf. Accessed 2 Feb. 2021.
- “DNR: Eastern Mole.” Indiana Department Of Natural Resources, State Of Indiana, www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/5740.htm. Accessed 2 Feb. 2021.
- COSEWIC. “COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Eastern Mole Scalopus Aquaticus in Canada.” COSEWIC Committee On The Status Of Endangered Wildlife In Canada, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2010, sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr_eastern_mole_0911_eng.pdf.
- Linzey, Don, and Christy Brecht. “Scalopus Aquaticus (Linnaeus).” Discover Life, Wytheville Community College, 28 Oct. 2005, www.discoverlife.org/nh/tx/Vertebrata/Mammalia/Talpidae/Scalopus/aquaticus/#:~:text=The%20eastern%20mole%20occurs%20in,(See%20map%20%231).
- “Moles (Family Talpidae).” KARS Kansas Applied Remote Sensing, kars.ku.edu/media/kufs/libres/Mammals_of_Kansas/mole.html. Accessed 2 Feb. 2021.
- Schmidly, David J., and Robert D. Bradley. “A Species Account of the Eastern Mole (Scalopus Aquaticus) | Mammals of Texas | Natural Science Research Laboratory | TTU.” Texas Tech University Natural Science Research Laboratory, Texas Tech University, 2016, www.depts.ttu.edu/nsrl/mammals-of-texas-online-edition/Accounts_Soricomorpha/Scalopus_aquaticus.php.