While walking my dog at the park this morning I spotted a large mole in the grass. I’d never seen a live one before, only dead ones that my cats used to leave as gifts at our front door. This one was clearly an adult, about four inches long, rather fat, and dark gray-brown with nude-colored, fur-less and clawed feet. I didn’t have my phone with me so I didn’t get a picture. The one above is from Pixabay.
I stopped to watch, wondering it he was hurt. He was moving some, but not much. I couldn’t get a good look at his face, just a glimpse of a snout with coloring that matched his feet.
“Have you ever seen a mole?” I called out excitedly to a mom and two kids picnicking nearby.
“No, there’s a mole?” the mom said, unsure.
“You gotta see this,” I said, waving them over. “I’ve never seen one!”
They hadn’t either, although I think the kids were more interested in my dog, Bella, than the mole. Bella was more interested in them, too, and didn’t give the mole even a whiff of attention. She’s a herder, not a hunter, which is just as well. I didn’t want this little guy to get hurt.
The mole started to walk, slowly at first, on squat little legs that belied his size. Then, perhaps sensing our presence and fearful, he picked up the pace from an amble to a quick, comedic wobble. He threw his body from side to side trying to balance and propel himself forward on those too-short legs. I thought for sure he was going to roll over and I wondered how he’d right himself. Clearly, moles use their legs for digging holes and tunnels more than walking.
I followed him until he came upon a hole at the base of an old tree stump, and crawled back into the subterranean world he calls home.
“That was so cool!” the other mom and I said in turn.
“Thanks for calling us over,” she said as they turned to go back to their picnic. “What’d you think about that mole, kids?”
I heard her explaining what a mole was as they sat back down.
My dog and I continued on our walk.
On my return trip, I stopped by the tree stump to see if the mole might be back. Fat chance, but I did see several holes.
Curious what the mole was doing above ground and if it was unusual (as I suspected), I looked up the habits of moles when I got home. This article says moles sometime come above ground at night. If you see one during the day, it might mean he’s injured or its mating season. Male moles come above ground to visit female moles in their burrows, while pregnant moles do so to search for nesting materials.
My “he” mole might be a “she” mole. It was definitely an adult.
Young moles can also seen above ground, when they leave the nest. At around five weeks old they go in search of their own feeding grounds, and begin their solitary lives. This must have been the vulnerable time when my cat hunted them.
Now I can only wonder.
Is there a mole nest under the tree stump? Was the mole fat because she’s pregnant? And will I get lucky again and be walking through the park on the day the young moles are leaving the nest? I’m going to keep an eye on that tree stump.
You never know when you’ll see the unexpected.
I stopped by the old tree stump on my evening walk with the dog. Not surprisingly, there was no sign of the mole. But I did find him about 100 yards down the path. Dead.
The distance seemed too far for him to have walked there. I didn’t see any teeth marks (not that I looked that closely), but perhaps a dog got him. A bloody stick was beside him, probably from some kids poking at his dead body out of curiosity.
I feel sad at his loss. That’s unexpected, too.