Is there a greater homeowner arch nemesis than the tunnel boring, yard ruining Mole?
Getting rid of these annoying creatures often turns into a frustrating game of whack-a-mole — spending countless time and energy but never fully eradicating the problem. All the while, the damage to your property continues.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, armed with the right knowledge and tools, getting rid of Moles in your yard can be quite simple. You might even come to appreciate these ugly little critters… or at least feel a little less animosity toward them.
What are Moles?
There are 4 common types of Moles in Oregon and Washington:
- Townsend Mole
- Coast Mole (Pacific Mole)
- Broad-footed Mole
- Shrew Mole
If you have a mole problem in Portland, you’re likely dealing with a Townsend Mole or Coast Mole. These adult Moles have a cylindrical-shaped body and dense, velvet gray or black fur. They range from 5-8 inches long and weigh about 2-3 ounces.
Their front feet are very wide and larger than their hind feet. They have long white claws that they use to dig and tunnel through dirt. Mole noses are pink and very pointed, while their ears and eyes are incredibly small, almost invisible to the eye.
Speaking of invisible, Moles spend almost all of their time underground and chances are you will never actually see one! While spotting a Mole is tricky, the damage they cause is quite obvious. More on that soon.
Signs you might have a Mole problem
Moles eat up to 100% of their weight in worms, grubs, and insects every day. These critters are looking for food all day long, which means they’re constantly excavating dirt and creating tunnels. And here lies the issue with Moles for homeowners.
Mole tunnels are usually 2 inches wide and sit about a foot under the surface of the ground. This results in raised ridges running across your lawn, called “runways”. Plus, as Moles dig up soil, they push it up above ground and create what’s known as a Molehill.
Molehills are circular, volcanic-shaped mounds of dirt that pile up around your yard. These dirt piles consist of soil from the deep down layers of the earth. Molehills can be up to a foot wide and range from 6 inches to 12 inches tall.
The difference between Moles and Gophers
Many people often get Moles and Gophers confused. Although they both burrow underground, they are quite unique to each other. Once you understand the difference, you’ll have no problem telling them apart.
Gophers are rodents (Moles are not considered a rodent). In appearance, Gophers look somewhat similar to a Squirrel or Mouse, with small eyes and ears, and short fine fur (usually brown or tan in color). They are larger than a Mole and have a flat head and stocky body.
Another difference? Gophers are vegetarians while Moles are insectivores. Gophers love veggies and are known for destroying roots, bulbs, leaves, and other flora in your yard. While Gophers spend most of their time underground, they will emerge to gather food or drag entire plants back down into their tunnel.
Because Gophers leave their tunnels, they cause holes in the surface of your yard. A Gopher mound is about 1-2 feet in diameter and can be up to a foot high (much larger than a Molehill). And while Molehills are round with no entry point, Gopher mounds are shaped like a crescent or horse shoe with the tunnel hole clearly visible.
Another distinguishing feature of a Gopher mound is a corresponding hole will be off to one side and plugged with fluffy, fresh dirt.
Don’t forget about Voles!
There’s one more burrowing critter you need to know about — Voles. Voles are smaller than Gophers and Moles and look very similar to a field mouse or hamster. These little rodents have short, stocky bodies and small dark eyes. Like Gophers, Voles are herbivores.
The most noticeable difference between Moles and Voles are the burrows. While Moles leave Molehills, Voles leave no mounds behind at all. Instead, Voles create above-ground runways to connect their burrows together.
These snakelike lines are about 1-2 inches wide and usually found in grassy areas of your property. You’ll notice Vole droppings on the surface of these runways.
In addition to the runways, other signs you’re dealing with a Vole problem are:
- Partially eaten carrots, potatoes, or other root vegetables or flower bulbs
- Chewed-up bark near the base of trees and shrubs
- Young trees or shrubs leaning over and damaged
Moles can cause damage to your home
As we’ve discussed, the most common problem Moles cause is tearing up your yard. Depending on the number of Moles you’re dealing with, you may experience Molehills and runways all over your lawn. In the process, it’s common for Moles to disrupt shrubs, bushes, and flowers. Most people find it impossible to maintain landscaping when dealing with a Mole intrusion.
More than disrupting your yard, Moles can also cause damage to your foundation. This is surprising to many homeowners. Left to run wild, Mole tunnels may eventually encroach on the foundation of your home. The tunnels dug under and around your foundation can cause water to accumulate, eventually leading to cracks in your foundation. This is a very serious issue!
All said, since Moles are primarily insectivores, some homeowners find these unique creatures to be helpful in managing bugs. However, this is usually not ideal unless you have a plan for ensuring they don’t cause damage to your home. You’ll also need to be diligent about managing the disruption to your plants, lawn, and other landscaping in your yard.
Most of the time, taking steps to get rid of yard Moles is the best way forward.
How to get rid of Moles
Portland homeowners go to great lengths to get rid of moles and keep their yards looking great. But tackling this process on your own can be dangerous and is often ineffective.
For one reason, no current over-the-counter repellents can reliably protect against Moles. DIY methods like mothballs, garlic, or gum placed in the tunnels also don’t produce reliable results.
And tricks like placing broken glass, razor blades, or barbed wire in and around Mole tunnels usually prove more hazardous to you and your family than to the Moles. In fact, Moles are known for just circumventing foreign objects like these.
So what can you do?
You can certainly try one of the many Mole control methods to see if one of them works for your situation. Oregon State University Extension Service has a great PDF with information on how to control Moles that may be helpful.
However, before you set a trap or toxic bait, make sure you understand the laws in your state and environmental implications. For example, in Washington, traditionally-used mole traps are no longer legal for use.
The most effective way to control Moles is to work with a professional. Here at EcoCare Pest Control, we offer an advanced CO2 elimination procedure that’s much more efficient than traditional Mole trapping methods. We can even effectively take care of Voles!
As always, our methods are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and safe for your property and family. This process involves a series of visits to your home to ensure the problem is actually solved. It’s the best way to get rid of Moles in Portland, Vancouver, and throughout the PNW.
Let us know how we can help you!
If you have questions about Moles in Portland, contact us. We can help:
- Answer common questions about Moles
- Identify if you have a Mole, Vole, or Gopher problem
- Get rid of Moles, Voles, Ground Squirrels, and other wildlife on your property
Our team has years of experience and is here to help you care for your property and keep you and your family safe.