It has been written that the mole has set periods of movement, that they sleep and eat in predetermined blocks or periods of time, Some claim 4 hours some 8 hours, this clearly does not apply to moles in the wild. Under research conditions, where moles are kept in captivity certain criteria may have placed moles in circumstances where they were deemed to have periods for activity and rest. Disturbance from the research, feeding, and observation in accordance with the other activities in the study area could have established such presumed time slots.
In the wild, moles tell us a different story, as a wild animal that lives its life below ground and even out of the influences such as sunlight, that imposes on other living creatures, the mole goes about is daily life as nature demands. I have studied many moles using cameras, and microphones set in their environments. It is clear that they do not have any periods of movement, moles have been recorded being active only once during a period of 24 hours whilst others two even three times in the same period of time.. It is clearly dependent upon the needs of each individual mole, and what that location can provide.
It is very difficult to explain in detail the tunnels moles make as every location is different due to the pressures of the environment and the needs of each individual mole is met.
What we do know is that moles have main tunnels that lead to locations and they use these to move around, and they have feeding tunnels from where they obtain their food.
A simple way to consider what the tunnels are below the surface is to consider the location you find them. Rows of molehills will possibly reveal the direction of travel, if you have them under fences, hedgerows or along the edge of a path it is because of the runoff from water and these areas are easy to dig as they hold moisture. These will be tunnels used to get from A to B even if only passing through or getting to a feeding ground. The feeding tunnels will be obvious by a scattering of molehills showing the moles efforts to dig a network of tunnels for finding the food.
If you were to open up these tunnels, the main runs will be smooth from the moles body brushing the sides as it passes along, the feeding tunnels will not be smooth.
The feeding tunnels are a network of runs and tunnels of varying depths dug to obtain the food they know was there at the time of construction. The moles will not dig for any reason; it cannot afford to use huge amounts of energy for no gain. If the food is not there then they will have no reason to dig. If the food is there then they will spend the energy to obtain the rewards and if the rewards are plentiful then they will harvest all they can and store it, in the same way we do. We buy or grow our food and store it in a larder or fridge until we need it. Moles do the same – they have worm larders. Learn about worms on the its all about food page.
When a mole finds an area that is plentiful in worms, it will not miss an opportunity to store food for later. With a large amount of available food, it will be able to use the energy to create the tunnels to harvest the worms. They will work quickly as the worms will be aware of the presence of the mole and will attempt to escape. The mole will hunt the worms and finding them take small bites to the worms head. This bite will require the worm to rest until it heals so the mole can gather the worms and place them in a small chamber, the worm larder. It will take approximately 28 days for the bite on the worm to heal before the worm can once again move away allowing the mole periods of rest from further digging, as it consumes the wares of the previous efforts. These worm larders can hold many worms and totals of 60-70 have been counted in worm larders.
Having created tunnels the mole is required to finding its way around, the tunnels may be adjoining tunnels from different areas, a labyrinth of feeding tunnels or a tunnel not used since the last breeding season. What ever the circumstances the mole is required to navigate or find its way from one place to another..
How do they do this?
They do this by using a special sense called a kinaesthetic sense, we all have one. It is an imprinted pattern of memory, but the moles kinaesthetic sense is used in conjunction with other special abilities that we also have but cannot use as efficiently as them.
The moles can remember every tunnel, its length, the turns and the junctions, it may have dug to build the complex itself or have entered into a previously built one made by another mole, but by using these amazing special senses the mole soon has a knowledge of that environment.