Moles are one of the most common species that are found around the world, although for the majority of people they are more likely to encounter the signs of moles being present rather than actually seeing the moles themselves. They are animals that generally live underground, and the most distinctive thing that most people will be familiar with is the mole-hill, effectively a small mound of freshly overturned soil, that is commonly found in grassy areas, or in a lawn or flower bed. While moles are often considered to be a pest by gardeners, in many areas they can also be a useful creature because of their diet, while their constant digging has led to a group of moles being known as a ‘labor' of moles.
The true mole species is found in North America, Europe and in parts of Asia, and is known for its cylindrical body that is designed for moving through tunnels, while they have also adapted to the need for digging. One of these evolutions is that moles have a second thumb on each of their front paws, which helps them to move the soil so that they can dig more effectively. Because of the reduced levels of oxygen below ground, moles have also adapted their blood to be able to survive with much lower levels of oxygen in the air than they would find above ground.
Like many animal species, moles will generally breed during the spring months, although this can vary depending on the climate in the area where they are living. The males will usually tunnel into new territories looking for females, letting out high pitched noises, while the female will then produce a litter of between 2 and 4 babies in the late spring. Most moles are solitary creatures outside of the mating season, and in the majority of cases their average life span will usually be between 2 and 3 years.
Moles will usually prefer the softer soil that can be found in grassy areas, so they will usually tend to be found in areas that have softer, moist soil that is easier to move with their paws. Because they are solitary creatures, they will usually have their own territory rather than living in groups, but depending on the presence and density of their food sources, the size of this territory can vary depending on how far they need to dig to find enough food.
The main part of the mole's diet is earthworms, although they will eat a range of other small invertebrates that can be found beneath the surface of the ground too. The mole's network of tunnels is actually designed to catch earthworms, as effectively the mole will have a strong sense of movement, and when the worm drops into their tunnel, they will quickly move to that area to catch their food. Like spiders, moles can produce a paralyzing toxin which they use to keep earthworms for a period after it is caught, meaning that it can store food for a period in an underground larder in one of its tunnels.
Moles are generally cautious and solitary creatures that will avoid venturing above ground as much as possible, because of how vulnerable they are when they are above the surface. Generally, moles aren't aggressive, but when it comes to two males encountering each other and having an overlapping territory, they will sometimes fight in order to confirm which will take that particular area. The age at which moles become independent is relatively young, so from around three months old, the moles will have left their mother and will have started to establish their own territory.
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