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Moles are mammals who spend most of their lives living in underground tunnels. Although these tunnel systems are often burdensome to homeowners, they can be beneficial to landscaping since they aerate the soil and mix its nutrients. The burrows that moles dig serve numerous functions essential to their prosperity, from feeding to nesting.
Moles spend most of the day down in their tunnels. During the day, their tunnels function as protection, where prey like hawks and snakes have a hard time picking up their scent. As nightfall arrives, the moles come out. Once exposed in search of food and nesting matter, they fall prey to nocturnal creatures such as raccoon or coyotes.
Moles construct shallow tunnels for traveling from feeding areas to nesting areas. These travel tunnels are the ones people typically find in their yards and gardens. They are often temporary, abandoned after more permanent tunnels are in place. Traveling tunnels are more active in spring, summer and fall seasons, during preparation for reproduction. Moles travel easily in their tunnels, turning and "swimming" through dirt with ease thanks to their velvety fur and out-turned paddlelike feet.
Moles' diets consist of plants and animals found in and around their tunnels. They generally eat insects like ants, termites and centipedes, invertebrates such as earthworms, snails, slugs and grubs; and plants like bulbs and seeds. Moles patrol their permanent tunnels in search of these prey items that have ventured into their tunnels, or they may dig temporary tunnels in search of food.
Nesting tunnels are the deepest category of tunnels for protection and warmth purposes. These tunnels typically range 5 to 18 inches below the surface of higher grounds where water doesn't collect. A thick, protective layer made of soft plants and leaves forms a shell around the nesting space. Each fertile female produces a single litter of mole pups each year, in winter to late spring.
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