The average mole is dark grey to black, approximately 15cms (6 inches) in length and weighs between 60 to 110 grams.
Its body is covered by dense soft fur with a velvety texture which has no resistance to direction allowing the mole to move freely and easily backwards or forwards within the tight spaces of its underground tunnelling system.
Moles have muscular enlarged forelimbs with shovel like clawed front feet which are short and powerful for digging. They can move several kilos of earth in a short space of time.
A mole has very poor eyesight but an acute sense of smell, touch and hearing.
Its eyes are completely hidden by fur giving the appearance of being blind although it can differentiate between light and dark.
Although moles have no apparent ears, just a pair of holes covered by skin, its hearing is very sharp. It can also sense vibrations in the soil with sensitive whiskers and tiny hairs covering its nose helping it to find its way about and to detect food and water. It also uses sensory hairs on its tail to brush the tunnel walls to pick up vibrations passing through the ground.
Known to be typically solitary creatures and fiercely territorial, moles only come together to mate or sometimes share the main runs under hedges and fences where territories overlap. The male (boar) will go in search of a female (sow) in early spring and after mating will return to his home resuming his solitary life.
The female will often have just one litter a year usually between February and June, consisting of up to 7 young but more commonly 3 to 4. Born blind and with no hair the young will develop rapidly. They will start to grow fur after 14 days and are able to see at 22 days old. They are ready to leave the nest and start digging by themselves at around 2 months to find territories of their own.
Moles eat up to 80% of their own body weight each day, feeding on earthworms, insects and grubs living in the soil. Surplus worms are bitten in such a way to paralyze them and are then stored in a chamber providing fresh food for later or in case of dry weather when the worms move deeper into the soil.
A mole cannot live for a great length of time without food and will regularly patrol its tunnels in search of worms and insects. It is thought that the mole works and sleeps in four hourly intervals throughout the day and night. Moles do not hibernate and are active throughout the year, more so in the breeding season and when extending and repairing their tunnels.
One of the times you may see a mole is in May or June when the young moles come to the surface scrambling around amongst the grass looking for food and vacant territory to start their own tunnelling system.
The average lifespan of a mole is 3 to 5 years.