The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to remove moles from your garden

mole hillsI always feel a bit sad when I find a dead mole in the garden. With its soft velvet coat and long sensitive nose, the mole seems such a small loveable creature. The Min Pins catch them and then toss them aside for their human pet to collect. Clearly they are not as appetising as the guinea pig that they killed in the garden and carried into the house for an impromptu bacchanal on a pretty pale yellow button backed chair. But that’s another story.

Occasionally we get an active mole in the garden. They can be a real pest, especially if they are in the kitchen garden. Years ago, when I lived here with just one elderly Min Pin, I engaged the services of a mole catcher with good results. I was under the impression that trapping moles is a skilled countryman’s pursuit.

I am working locally at the moment in a lovely house set in a large garden bursting with wildlife, including an adventurous mole. My clients are busy people with schedules that do not include scratching around in the garden. So I was amazed when the lady of the house pulled on a smart pair of Wellingtons and announced:
“You probably won’t approve but I’m going out to kill the mole.”
Disapprove? Not wanting to get my hands dirty, I had hired an assassin in the past.

Moles do not spread disease like rats but they can wreck a lawn in a few days. Left undisturbed, the mole bongo drums must throb because coach loads soon arrive and you open your door to more hills than the Himalayas.

I watched her stalk across the lawn wearing a pair of marigolds and holding a mole trap.

When she returned she was instantly interrogated. Had she caught a mole in the past?
“Well, yes.”
I was impressed.
She sat down and explained. Moles have a finely tuned sense of smell. Basically the secret is to always wear gloves when handling a trap. Wipe a new trap and put it in the garden to get rid of all human smells. After a couple of days you can set it.

To do this you need to locate the underground run between a couple of molehills. This is easily done using a bamboo cane if the ground is soft. Then, using a slim trowel or ultra fat dibber, make a hole into the run and place the trap. The general idea is that the mole will tootle along the tunnel and into the trap. Within seconds the mole will be investigating that great mole hill in the sky.

The mole in question is clearly a relation of Einstein. She has not been caught. She spotted the trap and turned around sharpish. She is now tunnelling across the paddocks beyond the garden perimeter. The perfect outcome for those who love and those who loathe moles everywhere.

Tricks and tips:

  • Mole claw traps are inexpensive. If you cannot buy them locally, scissor type mole traps
    are available here.
  • I was advised in the past that old fashioned moth balls dropped into the runs deter moles. A reader has emailed me from New Jersey to say that it’s a bad idea to put mothballs in the soil as they kill beneficial microorganisms and earthworms.

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  1. Haydn Davies

    I read up and tried many methods to no avail. Fed up of paying for stuff that didn’t work, I sat and thought about it. Point one is to know your enemy and his habits, you can get this from wildlife books, or on the wildlife websites. My remedy that works for me: I cut up into small pieces and boil a large handful of chilli pods. I place the boiled pods with the juice into a watering can and add a small touch of cheap disinfectant and some washing liquid. I let it stew in the can for some hours.
    THE ATTACK: I scrape away the mole mounds, the freshest ones firstly then pour into the hole, half a pint into each. I also use the very best kind of child’s windmills, they help to steer the moles in a chosen direction. I am virtually free of moles.

  2. Great article! I’m sick and tired of mole hills appearing in my garden, has anybody come across this mole catcher?

  3. lewis

    Only one sure way of ridding your garden from the Taliban of pests.Chilli powder.I produce my own – habaneros mostly – and a kilo of powder keeps my one acre of vegetable and flower plots totally free of moles.My garden was infested with at least four of them.I had tried every which way to repel or kill them.None worked.They arrived from surrounding fields but – no longer.A quarter of a teaspoon in evey run, fresh molehill or opening and within 24 hours they were history.Whenever a new one turned up – same treatment and instantly they are gone (or sneezed/cried to death?)Extra hot chilli available on line or Tesco’s for around £6.00 per kilo.It is cheap, humane, organic and it works

  4. Steve Birchall

    A friend of mine was plagued with moles in his terraced house and heard that they hate loud noise. He promptly found the run and dropped some mp3 earbuds into the hole, turned up the volume and, hey presto, the next door neighbours garden was plagued with the little blighters. Have since tried it and it does work.

  5. Clive Roberts

    A cost free method which worked every time for me is urine. It is even possible to “steer” the little devils with the stuff. The method :-

    Collect a gallon or so of urine(human or animal)in a watering can. Fork the ground in a semi circle roughly 6 feet from the offending mole hill and dib a hole through the offending hill into the tunnel underneath it. Pour the urine into both the forked holes and the dibbed hole. You will find that the mole will then abandon that area. Keep repeating the same MO with the moles other workings and you will find sooner rather than later he will sling his hook.
    The notion behind it :-
    The urine will make the existing tunnel unworkable and the semi circle of urine will discourage the mole from advancing any further in that particular direction.
    You may find my suggestion a little strange but I first dreamed it up about 30 years ago and it worked every time it was needed and if it doesn`t work for you then what have you lost !!

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