Moles spend most of their time underground, eating grubs and worms. Although you probably don’t notice them that often, moles do occasionally exit the confines of their subterranean world to brave the dangers of the surface. But when they do breach the surface, where do they go, and more importantly, do moles come inside the house?
Although there are instances when moles do enter human dwellings, it is a rare occurrence, often accidentally. Moles are prey animals, and human homes are full of predators, strange smells, and other dangerous situations. For these reasons, moles try to avoid houses and other high activity areas.
Although it is rare to see a mole out and about on the lawn, it is even rarer to find one in your house. It is, however, not an unheard-of occurrence, but under which circumstances would you find a mole in your house? When do they come out of the ground? And are there ways to prevent moles from coming into your house?
Moles Habits, Habitats, And Ecology
Moles are subterranean mammals (fossorial), burrowing underground for most of their lives.
Seven species of moles occur in North America. These species include:
- American shrew mole (Neurotrichus gibbsii)
- Broad-footed mole (Scapanus latimanus)
- Coast mole (Scapanus orarius)
- Eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus)
- Hairy-tailed mole (Parascalops breweri)
- Star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata)
- Towsend’s mole (Scapanus townsendii)
Moles inhabit a range of habitats that provide them with uncompacted (loose) and moist soil conditions. These habitats include fields, forests, meadows, orchids, and residential gardens.
Moles are shy, solitary creatures who prefer to avoid unnecessary confrontations, especially with predators, but they will also avoid one another. Males are, however, known to compete during the breeding season. These scuffles can become severe and even lead to death.
Moles dig a network of tunnels under the ground, which are approximately 1.97 inches wide, 1.57 inches high and can cover an area of 230 feet. These tunnels are distributed in the soil from just below the surface to 27.56 inches deep.
We can usually see that moles are present in an area by the mounds of dirt they push up as they dig.
Moles, although visually impaired, are nimble enough to run through tunnels backward and even execute somersaults to change directions quickly.
Why Do Moles Spend Their Time Underground?
A subterranean lifestyle provides moles with a host of benefits. Some of these benefits include:
- Moles are practically blind, making them perfectly adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They have evolved to this lifestyle by eating insects, beetle (and other) larvae, and earthworms, to name a few. Moles dig through the earth with their large sharp front claws (up to 15 feet in one hour) and are sensitive to vibrations, sounds, and other tactile stimuli.
- Furthermore, moles have unique hemoglobin (what allows the blood cell to carry oxygen throughout the body) adaptations, which allow moles to function in low oxygen and high carbon dioxide environments.
- Under the ground, moles are protected from most predators who target small-sized mammals, including canids, felids, birds, and snakes.
- Moles are protected from climatic and weather extremes. The benefit of living underground is that weather fluctuations are less prevalent. Heat, cold, wind, snow, rain, sunlight all have less impact, as conditions under the soil remain relatively homogenous.
- Moles have less competition for resources. In areas where resources are scarce, animals need to find a niche to survive. Moles have a food source and place to live away from other above-ground mammals by living underground. This separation results in less competition for food and shelter.
Under Which Circumstances Do Moles Come Above Ground?
There are several situations where a mole leaves the safety and security of their underground worlds. These situations include:
- Moles surface to gather nesting materials.
- Moles surface when the soil is dry and hard in search of food.
- Juvenile moles surface when they leave their mother’s burrow and seek out their place of residence.
The times when moles make sorties out on the surface are usually at night when temperatures are lower, and the risk of predation is lessened, although owls and various cat species are active at night, so it is not without risk.
Why Don’t Moles Come Inside The House Often?
Human dwellings (houses and surrounding areas) are often terrifying places for smaller-sized animals. Fast and constant movement, loud noises, predators (in the form of pets and children), and strange smells are only some of the deterrents that we humans set up around our homes, often without even realizing it.
Moles are prey animals and will attempt to avoid dangerous situations to their best abilities. For this reason, they choose to avoid our dwellings, as the risks of entering outweigh any rewards.
When Would Moles Come Inside The House?
There are several reasons for a mole entering a human dwelling. These reasons are divided into moles entering houses of their own choice and moles entering houses against their will.
Moles Entering Houses Of Their Own Choice
Sometimes a mole that a predator chases will make a run for any safe hiding place. If this is your house, the mole will come inside, as the unknown threats are less dire than the predator chasing it.
Another emergency where a mole will enter your house is severe weather conditions. If the mole was out of its burrow and a rainstorm strikes, the mole might opt for entering your house instead of looking for its tunnel.
Food Shortages Or Drought
During times of severe stress, like drought, a mole may leave the safety of its tunnels in search of food and shelter. Moles don’t move through the ground when too dry or compacted. During these times, moles will often seek out food sources, which may lead to them coming inside your house.
Coupled with drought and food shortages are extreme weather conditions. During a particularly dire winter, moles may leave their burrows to seek shelter, which could lead them into your house.
Sometimes Moles Get Lost
Even moles are not above mistakes. Sometimes while out foraging and “exploring,” a mole will accidentally stumble into a house. This accidental house call is especially prevalent with younger moles, who leave their mothers’ burrows for the first time.
Another example of moles accidentally breaking in is when you have a root cellar, dirt floor storage, or lack a foundation, moles may be enticed to tunnel up inside the building in search of food.
Damaged basement windows and cracks in the foundation along the soil line are other examples of where moles accidentally come through.
Moles Entering Houses Against Their Will
Pets Bring Moles Into The House
Any cat owners should be well aware of this reason. Although cats and dogs have long since been domesticated, their natural hunting instincts are often still fully functional.
When given a chance, our pets will hunt moles, either digging them up (as in the case of dogs) or stalking and catching them once the mole leaves the safety of its burrow.
Often, once caught, these moles end up inside the house, either to show the pet owners what the pets achieved or as a more convenient parlor.
Children are also guilty of this. Inquisitive children may catch a mole and spirit it away from the garden to show their parents what they found.
What To Do When A Mole Enters Your House
In the unlikely event of a mole entering your home, the most important thing to do is NOT to panic.
Assess the situation. Does the mole look aggressive, scared, disorientated, injured, hungry, or cold? Even if you are not an ethologist, most people can identify an aggressive animal from one that is calm and casual.
Once the situation has been assessed, you are in a better position to decide on your next course of action calmly, namely :
- Do you remove the mole yourself? Often just by chasing it out.
- Do you trap the mole and move it/wait?
- Do you call a pest/wildlife removal expert?
Depending on the situation, any of these options could be the correct decision.
For example, if the mole wandered in, it doesn’t seem hurt, it’s not the middle of winter, and it shows no sign of aggression, then catching it and relocating it (either outside in your yard or a local park) could be a feasible option.
There are some issues with this, though. Moles generally have a population density of one mole per 2 to 5 acres, which means that if you release the mole at a park, you may upset the status quo there, resulting in unnecessary fights.
It may therefore be better to simply “shoo” the mole back into your garden and make sure that however it gets in is inaccessible for the next time.
Another example is if the mole shows aggressive behaviors or seems injured. In these (and any instance you are unsure of what to do), calling a wildlife removal expert will be better. They should have the knowledge and experience to safely remove, relocate, or transport a sick/injured mole to the appropriate endpoint.
For the most part, simply opening the door, it came in through, and chasing the mole with a broom should be more than sufficient to remove it from your house.
Ways To Make Sure That Moles Don’t Come Inside The House
Moles don’t regularly enter human homes, but finding them inside a house is not unheard of. If you have anxiety about the time they may pop in for a quick visit, there are some implementable measures which to prevent this from happening
- Keep the outside entry doors closed. Moles come in from the outside, so to prevent this from occurring, you can keep the doors closed when not in use.
If you like to open the doors, so you don’t feel trapped or live in a warm area, purchase a screen door. Most of these are made of a solid material, which should prevent a mole from gaining access to your home.
- Mow the grass and keep the lawn tidy. Moles will move through areas they feel comfortable and safe in. If there are many hiding spots, a mole may be more tempted to use them as they scurry along towards your house. By removing the cover, a mole may feel more threatened and therefore less likely to leave the safety of their subterranean dwellings.
- Pave around your house. Although this method is a bit more expensive, by paving or cementing the area around your house, you again create an inaccessible area for moles to tunnel through. This “no-man’s-land” increases the risk and should reduce the likelihood of moles encroaching.
These home improvements also include repairing broken basement windows, foundation cracks, and other convenient points of entry moles may find. By fixing the problems, you can prevent moles from entering in the first place.
- Discourage children (and if at all possible pets) from interacting with moles. This intervention has some health-related benefits as well.
There is a slight chance that a mole breaching the surface may carry rabies or some other sort of disease to make it leave its burrow. By teaching children to leave moles alone, and pets to not bring them inside, you could prevent potential epidemics from starting. Aside from diseases, moles do bite when defending themselves, so warning children against playing with them is prudent.
- Mole-proof fencing is an additional option to prevent moles from coming into your house or even damaging your lawn. These fences are a quarter-inch mesh hardware cloth, buried to a depth of two feet, with an additional foot of meshing protruding above the surface. Although not a perfect barrier, these fences should discourage most moles from moving in.
Although it is unlikely for moles to enter a house, it does happen that they accidentally stumble inside either through a dirt floor, cracks in the foundation, or if a pet decided to share their hunting spoils with you. The best removal method is to chase the mole out through an open door in most cases. However, in certain instances calling in wildlife or pest control experts may be a better idea, especially if the animal seems sick or injured. Moles are better suited to life underground than in your home.