A Mountain Out of a Molehill

Mole Hill

On a very wet trail heading into one of my workplaces (the woods) I noticed one of these fresh mounds of dirt. On the way out about 7 hours later the other mound was there. Now that I had the time to investigate I did.

Mole hill uncovered, Star-nosed mole

I dug into the piles and found this little hole a little less than an inch across. Something had pushed that dirt up from underneath. But who, might you ask?

Star-nosed mole hole

So I did some digging (sorry for the pun) and found out a few things about moles. We have three species in New England, Star-nosed (Condylura cristata), Hairy-tailed (Parascalops breweri) and Eastern (Scalopus aquaticus).

I wanted to know which of these was more likely the culprit here. The size of the hole did not help me much, no tracks to be seen or scat.  Not sure any of that would help either. What I did have to go on was habitat. Each of the three mole species has a favored terrain.

Hairy-tailed prefer drier open areas with loose soil. Eastern moles can handle somewhat denser soil and enjoy meadows, your lawn, open woods and similar places. Star-nosed go for low wet places where they can find crustaceans and even small fish and amphibians as well as the worms and inverts the other moles eat.

The path I found the hills on is continuously wet, one can tell by the look of the soil and the mossy ground. It looks like Star-nosed country to me.

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