Moles are burrowing animals that are quite common in the UK, though they usually keep below everyone’s feet. While by no means aggressive, moles are often treated as vermin due to the damage their digging can do to gardens. A mole infestation can leave a lawn spotted with molehills and put local plants in peril.
As is usually the case with pests, there are plenty of ‘traditional’ methods for dealing with moles, such as leaving moth balls or lye outside of their molehills. However, these techniques are mostly ineffective. Luckily, there are a number of proven methods for catching moles effectively and humanely so that they can be later disposed of or relocated elsewhere.
Your best option for catching and removing your moles will be to speak to a qualified local pest controller, who will have the equipment and expertise to deal with your problem quickly and efficiently. Depending on the size of your infestation, you may also want to consider hiring a gardener or landscape designer to repair your garden once the moles have departed.
Before you start getting ready to catch your moles, there are a few things that you should be aware of. Firstly, an adult mole can grow to around 14 cm and their bite can easily pierce skin. Furthermore, while moles are hardly marathon runners, they can still be quite fast over short distances. Finally, moles can quite literally ‘smell’ a trap, or rather they can smell the scent of humans on traps so that they know to avoid them. You can avoid this by always wearing safety gloves during your work. You can make the gloves even more well suited for the job by rubbing the outsides with dirt before you begin.
One final thing to keep in mind is that your Local Authority will have rules in place about the proper way to trap or dispose of moles. If you are determined to catch the moles yourself, make yourself aware of these policies first.
You will need: shovel, large bucket (at least 7.5 litres), protective gloves
The first method that we will discuss involves tricking moles into burrowing their way right into a trap!
For this method to work, you will first need to find an active molehill. You can do this by looking out for molehills that have fresh piles of dirt around them. Next, feel around the molehill with your hands or feet and look for spots where the earth is softer. This will indicate that you have found an an actively used tunnel, the perfect place to snag a mole.
Once you have found this, it’s time to set your trap. Dig under the area, ensuring that there is enough space under the tunnel line for you to bury your bucket. Place the bucket inside, then start packing soil in around it. This will block up the tunnels, but gullible moles will happily dig through the barrier, right towards the bucket.
Cover the bucket up with sod or a large board. The lack of sunlight will trick your moles into thinking that nothing is amiss. If all goes well, they will fall into the bucket and become stuck so that you can retrieve them later on.
Once the trap is in place, check it twice daily to see if you have caught any moles.
You will need: garden hose, bucket, protective gloves
This next solution is more simple, and involves flooding moles out of their tunnels so that they can be caught above ground.
Keep in mind that this method will require you to grab and contain moles as they emerge from the ground. Depending on the size of your problem, you may want to enlist some help so that no moles get away.
To start, search for an active molehill and locate the opening. Insert your garden hose and turn on the water. Do not have it on too high or you will flood the tunnels too quickly.
This will make the moles believe their home is flooding and they will do their best to quickly escape. Soon after you turn on the hose, moles should start to dig their way out of the ground. Remember, they can be very fast over short distances, so get ready to catch them as they appear.
You will need: trowel, scissor trap, disposal bag, bucket
Although lethal methods are not for everyone, a tried and tested way of catching moles is by placing scissor traps in their tunnels. These traps close around moles that are forced to crawl through them, allowing you to remove the pests and dispose of them.
Setting up a scissor trap will require you to find active tunnels. Once you have found an active molehill, feel around with your feet or hands to find areas that are softer to the touch. These areas will only recently have been disturbed, which indicates an active tunnel. To give you a clue, moles love digging tunnels along solid structures, so use this as a guide if the molehill is next to a wall or fence.
Once you have found a tunnel, stomp down on it to make it collapse. If the soil has been excavated again after a few days, then you have a perfect spot to catch a mole.
Using a trowel, dig out part of the tunnel section. You will want to pat down the bottom, as this will prevent moles from digging under the trap. Place the scissor trap inside, with the jaws set in the middle of the tunnel. This space should be completely clear, spanning across the width into the tunnel and dug into the bottom by around an inch. Finally, cover the tunnel with loose dirt, leaving enough of the trap above ground that you can easily take it out.
Before leaving the trap, cover it up with a large bucket. This is to prevent children or pets from getting to the trap and potentially injuring themselves.
Once everything is prepared, you should come back to check the trap a couple of times a day. If there is no luck after two days or so, you may have to try elsewhere.
If you manage to snare some moles, you will need to dispose of them properly. Again, you can get information on how to do this legally by speaking to your Local Authority.