As with most underground animals moles do not hibernate and are active year round. This is most likely due to the warmth retained by the earth below the surface. It has been noted, however, that their activity will remain in the lower portions of their tunnels during periods of extreme cold and heat.
Moles are diggers and, with only rare exceptions, spend the majority of their lives underground. The one (1) exception is the American Shrew Mole which spends a great deal of time above ground and may even climb trees. Moles spend their time in underground tunnels constructed with their large shovel like feet. Moles will build two (2) types of tunnels. The tunnel most disliked by homeowners is their surface tunnels. These tunnels are located only one (1) to four (4) inches below the surface. You might recognize these three (3) inch wide ridges in your yard. These tunnels are used for feeding and may only be used once. The surface tunnels are connected to the second, deeper type of tunnels made by moles.
The deeper tunnels made by these mammals are three (3) to twelve (12) inches below the surface and are represent their main mode of transportation. These tunnels will lead to the surface tunnels and to the main nesting chamber below the earth. The deeper tunnels are about two (2) inches wide.
Moles are able to dig up to fifteen (15) feet per hour! Digging is most pronounced when the soils are moist in the spring and fall. What happens to all that dirt? It gets pushed out of the tunnels to the surface with those wide front feet leaving a mound, otherwise known as the “Molehill”.
The Eastern Mole will create hills approximately 7 inches high and 17 inches wide, but the Coast Mole will produce smaller hills. On average moles will create four (4) hills per day, during the spring and fall when the soils and wetter and digging activity is ramped up. The Coast Mole has been known to make 200 to 400 hills in one (1) season. The American Shrew Mole on the other hand does not normally create molehills at all.
Family interests are simple. The mole normally has only one (1) litter per year. Family size is limited to three (3) or four (4) young who arrive in March or April.
Mole Benefits & Detriments to Humans and the Ecosystem
Moles are very beneficial to the ecosystem. Their constant digging aerates and mixes the soils in your yard creating a much healthier yard and wild places where they live. Unfortunately all that digging sometimes dislodges plants that homeowners may be particularly fond of. Additionally, other animals including voles and house mice utilize the burrow passages of moles.