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Page last updated at 08:36 GMT, Tuesday, 15 June 2010 09:36 UK
Are Moles a friend or foe?
The only times a mole ever pops up is when they are nest building which is a specific activity

There are an estimated 40 million moles in Britain and the demise of pesticides and mole catchers has been to the benefit of the creatures.

But are they friend or foe?

BBC Radio Cornwall James Churchfield interviewed mole enthusiast Peter Stafford, the managing director at the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

For Peter Stafford the little creatures have been a fascination of his for most of his life.

They are probably the most recognisable mammal in Britain by their signs but one that almost nobody has ever seen alive.
Peter Stafford, managing director at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Many people will have never and will never seen a mole.

We have been mistaken through stories that the mole hills themselves are the mammals making their way to the surface.

Peter explains a mole hill is not an indication that they are popping up from underneath, it is actually a sign the mole is putting to rights the accumulated rubbish in its tunnel system.

With his knowledge of the creatures Peter is able to catch them at certain times of the year when he know they tunnel system will be particularly close to the surface.

He explained that people are often shocked at just how little they are when showed a mole. We assume, from the enormous amount of digging that they do, that they will be substantial creatures.

James asked why Peter thought they were extraordinary creatures, when many gardeners feel they are a darn nuisance.

Mole hill
A mole hill indicating the mole clearing the accumulated rubbish in its tunnel system

"Well of course they are if you want a manicured lawn and you don't like looking at mole hills then of course they are a nuisance, but they also have a life to lead and they are probably the most recognisable mammal in Britain by their signs but one that almost nobody has ever seen alive.

"You see dead ones occasionally, usually young ones."

We are under the impression that moles pop up through the ground and have a look around but Peter explains:

"Well, I certainly haven't ever seen one do that as there is no reason for the mole to pop up.

"The only exception to this is when they are nest-building, moles tend to pop up in a grassy area and pull stuff down to make their nest in their fortress which is a specific activity, otherwise if they are above ground they are in trouble and will be dead quite quickly."

Peter also explains that the mole hills are perfect soil for potting as the mole hills have done all the hard work for you and by using the soil you are not destroying their tunnel system.

So, it depends on which way you look at it as to whether the little creatures are a friend of a foe, but with no natural predators to speak of, moles are most definitely here to stay.

Mole numbers 'increasing rapidly'
15 Jun 10 |  Science & Environment



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