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Mole

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Moles are well adapted for a life of digging. It is rather small: 18 cm long, weighing 100 grams.

They lack external ears and have tiny eyes concealed beneath their fur. Their front feet are wider than they are long. Webbed toes support strong claws and their palms turn outward. The paddle-like forelimbs move laterally, enabling moles to "swim" through the soil. Moles have short, velvet-like fur that varies in color from gray to brown.

Moles are spread all over Karelia, but in the north it is rare and can be met only in certain places. Moles are large in number in Prionezhskiy and Olonetskiy regions. Here on the territory of 1000 hectares there are from 500 to 1000 moles. The quantity of moles in Prjazhinskiy, Kondopozhskiy and Pudozhskiy regions is average (from 200 to 400 on the territory of 1000 hectares), and even less in the other regions of the republic; here they rarely exceed the density of 30 moles per 1000 hectares.

The mole prefers fields, meadows, pastures, and open woodland. At these places the soils are fertile, mellow and rich with earth warms and other invertebrate animals. Much rarely moles can be met in fir- and pinewoods and they don’t live near bogs and rocks.

Mole spends all of his life underground in a complex system of many-storied passageways. The depth and the length of the tunnel depends on its functioning. One type consists of deep, fairly permanent passageways that are used as burrows and as routes to feeding sites. The other consists of surface runways used for collecting food. Winter tunnels tend to be deeper than summer tunnels. Mole home range usually is up to 50 sq. km.; the length of his passageways is from 10 to 90 meters.

Mole eats primarily earthworms. It also eats insects and their larvae, mollusks. Mole is very gluttonous. In order to satisfy his hunger he needs 60-70 grams of food, which is 50 to 100% of its own weight. Mole can stay hungry for no more than 14-17 hours.

Breeding occurs once a year. It takes place in late April – early May and young are born in late may – June. The young are born blind, hairless and absolutely helpless, but they develop quickly. Litters usually contain two to seven young. They can take care of themselves after a month.

Due to the underground mode of living, it has few natural enemies. When it comes to the surface it can fall a prey to buzzards, owls and some mammal species like martens, polecats, stoats, foxes and dogs. Predators usually just kill moles, but never eat them because of their strong musky smell. However, during bad harvest of small rodents – the main food of predators – moles are killed much more often.

In Karelia the density of mole is defined with the depth of frost penetration. During severe, not snowy winters, when the depth of frost penetration is high, the amount of earthworms and larvae is decreasing and it makes the mole to dig deep into the earth or to come up to the surface. Droughty summer and rainy autumn are also unfavorable for moles.

Moles are of great trade importance for their durable and beautiful fell. The main way to catch it is to use special wire traps, which should be put into the mole’s tunnel.