Hi my name is Wart and I am a mole! I live underground which is the reason why you may never have seen me before. My home is a complex network of tunnels that I dig to create my home. It is where I sleep and eat and I would like to share this wonderful world with you.
If you know of a place where a mole like me is living then you too can study this mole and I will tell you how. You might like to give your new mole friend a name! Your new friend may not be very sociable as moles are not often seen and we do not even like each other. We live on our own which will make studying how we live very easy. If you do find or have an area of land that has mole hills – they are the waste soil we leave around from all the digging we do, then you can start your own Mole Watch straight away.
You may be part of a group or school class which will be really exciting as you will learn of lots of other things like what I eat and where I sleep. You will learn about the weather and the different times in the year called seasons. Where ever you are the habitat or environment – this is the special name that you call the surroundings where have your home, is different, and you will learn of how changes to the environment will make moles change how and even where they live. To understand how moles live you will need to learn to measure and record information as I will ask you to measure the mole hills, and you will need to draw a special map. You will also record weather conditions as us moles may live underground but whatever the weather does above ground is very important to how we live. The information you collect can be compared with mole watchers everywhere to fully understand how moles live in different parts of the country. Send in your information to the Great Mole Wizard at Mole Watch Live headquarters, you may wish to display about your mole on a website or even Twitter it to the world. Moles do twitter, it is the sound that we make to talk to each other, but unlike you humans we twitter to tell other moles we are there to warn them to stay away – we really do not like each other.
Some people are really lucky and have a mole in their garden which would make a mole watch very easy as you can just pop out into the garden, but you may still have to look over the fence to see the full picture, maybe ask your neighbour if you can take closer look. The school field may have a mole or if not, you may, if you are making Mole Watch Live a school or group project contact your local farmer. Moles like farmland and it makes a great place to learn of moles and Mole Watch Live will help you do this.
Your Mole Watch may be carried out to suit the time that you can allocate to it. Groups of friends or school classes may share the project which will produce very detailed information on your humble mole and the mysterious world it lives. The more frequently you can record the information that your mole is providing, the more detailed your project will become creating a fascinating study. A daily monitor and recording of information will produce the best results which could even become an additional part of an educational or research assignment. However you may decide to adopt your Mole Watch, the information will produce a unique inside look into one of the worlds rarely seen mammals and form part of a national larger scheme.
Not everyone may have access to an area that has a resident mole but this is not a problem as you too will be able to follow the progress of the mole watchers everywhere on the Mole Watch Live website.
By joining Mole Watch Live you will learn also about the soil and the creatures that moles share the different horizons or layers with. Of the natural predators we need to avoid including the threats from humans, and more advanced studies will reveal new questions that for millions of years that us moles have kept a closely guarded secret. Why not ask your family, your friends or your school to become a mole watcher and be a part of this exciting new look into the Kingdom of the mole!
As a mole I need to find somewhere dry to sleep and this maybe under a large tree where the roots will help create a nice cosy place to build a nest. I could be under a raised bank of soil even under your patio or shed. I will line my nest with something to keep me warm like some grass or leaves but anything I can find that will help keep out the cold will do nicely.
If I cannot find anywhere suitable, I will build a nest in a large molehill, you have a special name for this- you call it a fortress. If the land gets very wet, we will build a big mole hill and tunnel a nest into it. Also, if the soil is really shallow like on the hillside. We will create shallow tunnels and gather up the soil from the construction of these tunnels in a mound, hollow that out and another nest site is built. So, we can adapt to live in most locations. So, if you are looking for good nesting sites these are the best places to consider. If you cannot find an obvious dry area that may have a secret mole nest hidden in it then look at the ground levels. Is there any change in levels, as us moles have been around for a long time and work from your human interference may have laid soil over an area making it higher and therefore drier? Here there may be a mole hiding its nest under the ground. Again, it will be lined with grass for warmth and unless you know where it is, it will be hard to find which is really good for the mole as we do not like to be disturbed.
You may find moles living in your garden or in the countryside even in your school field, we can adapt to almost anywhere providing there is food to eat. I need to eat almost two thirds of my body weight in food a day which means a lot of digging to create the tunnels where I find the worms and other bugs and grubs which are really yummy! I was once called an insectivore which means that I eat insects and not as many people think, that I eat the roots of their plants. Now they call me a eulipotyphla!
My home is a complex sytem of tunnels but we do not dig for fun. Every tunnel is carefully dug to find the food which we find by feeling the vibrations that they make as they also dig or scurry in the soil.
We feel these vibrations with special hairs on our body which you have another special word for – you call these hairs - vibrissae. We have these on our face, rear feet and on the end of our tail which we hold up and touch the roof of the tunnel.
Under the ground our tunnels are all at different levels as we need to dig where the food will be found and we also have to dig around all that rubbish that you bury in the ground.
We can smell our food if it is in our tunnels but by using vibrations, we can locate the food in the soil and then dig our tunnels in the right places. Being able to smell also allows us to detect the scent of other moles. Our nose is really special as it is covered in tiny receptors called papillae which we can fill with blood to make them very sensitive. It is important to know all about your environment and these papillae inform us of things like air flows, air pressure, temperature even humidity in the ground.
We can hear sounds as we do have ears but we do not require the hearing of a mouse.
Any sounds in the ground will travel along the tunnels and alert us to possible danger. Our ears do not stick out like yours because if they did, they would get caught on things as we run along and twist and turn. You may think that because we live in the dark that we are blind but you would be wrong. I have two perfectly formed eyes just like yours, but mine are tiny. We do not need really good eyesight as we live in an almost permanently dark world so we only need to know the difference between the light and the dark. However, like many other animals we can detect Ultra Violet and Infar Red light which is something that you humans cannot do.
We spend all our lives in the soil and we have learnt to dig with our large front paws which can tear at the soil and then we can push it out of the way. We need to get the soil out of the tunnels so we can travel along them, this means that we have to put it somewhere and you call these mole hills. Some people get really upset when we put molehills on their lawn, and we get upset when you stamp on our roof. Travelling through the tunnels is also something we can achieve quite easily as we have another special ability. How do we find our way around this complex network of tunnels without bumping into anything? It is really very simple, we have a kinaesthetic sense. This is another one of those fancy words you give things, but you also have this special kinaesthetic sense. How do you find things in the dark? How do you find the light switch in a darkened room, you have a special memory which allows you to remember the movements of your arm to push the switch without having to see where the light switch is? Our sense is far better than yours as we can run through our tunnels and remember every turn and junction, could you run around your house in the dark and not bump into things?
Watching us moles will be really great fun for you and you will need to learn all about lots and lots of things such as the soil. This is not just dirt but a very special intricate world of all sorts of things like other living things that us moles share it with. Soil is different where ever you are and it comes in different types but us moles like the nice soil as it is where the food is found and better to dig in. The weather is another thing to learn about as whatever the weather does will impact on how we moles live. By looking at the weather and what influences it has on the soil you will see why moles have to work so hard.
Worms are my favourite things to eat and having to find so many as I get really hungry means that we are always looking for anywhere they may be found and what you humans do to the soil often helps us to do this, but you do get upset when we dig in your lawn or in the vegetable patch.
We need to eat approximately two thirds of our body weight in food per day because we do not have very much body fat which is what we need just to stay warm, so we may store worms in special chambers called worm larders. We find them and bite them which will slow them down a bit. Storing them in these special places means we can return to eat them later. After a nice meal we often take a small sleep, I may just curl up in one of the tunnels or I may return to the warmth of the nest. Living in the tunnels means we are safe from most predators but the weasel will enter into the ground to find us and if we go near the surface owls like to pull us out for their dinner, but the other problem we have is you humans. As well as stamping on the roof you often try and catch us or push poke or pour substances over the ground to try and get us to go. It really does not matter what you try as we will only come back later and after all we were here first. Moles are mammals and we have been around for millions of years and how we live has changed very little over this long period of time. You may never have considered what a wonderful world there is under the piles of dirt and now you can learn all about the strange and mysterious life of a very special creature – me! -- The mole.
I hope that you will enjoy being part of Mole Watch Live and will enjoy learning and understanding about moles and how they live across the whole of the United Kingdom.