Let's face it:
Moles are look weird and eat even weirder things...
Their snouts are extended and hairless, their eyes seem to be nonexistent, and their "paws" look more like flaps than external appendages.
Because of their bizarre physical features, one is inclined to wonder what (and how) moles eat in the wild.
Whether you're just curious about what these mysterious creatures eat or you're trying to solve a problem-causing mole, we've got you covered.
The Average Mole Diet
While classified as mammals, moles are actually not carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores.
They fall into the sub-category of insectivores, and they actually benefit you in your yard upkeep.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your mole problem?
What Is An Insectivore?
This is an animal that eats only insects. Technically, this is a subset of the carnivorous diet pattern, but it is its own smaller, distinguished category due to the fact that insectivores only eat the "meat" of insects.
Moles have a few different favorite foods, all found in the soils where the mole spends the vast majority of its 3-year lifespan:
- Insect larvae
A Mole's Favorite Food: Earthworms
Everyone who's ever played out in the dirt as a kid has probably come into contact with at least one earthworm at some point. They're distinctive in that they have long, dark-orange or even reddish bodies broken into up to 150 segments.
Earthworms are widely regarded as the ideal meal for a mole. It has been reported that moles will regularly dine on earthworms throughout the day, as well as stash some in their burrows for later.
Earthworms also serve as the mole's primary form of hydration due to the high content of water within the segments of the worm's body.
Because moles expend so much energy each day, they'll need a food source in abundance. The population of earthworms in the soil where moles burrow is ample, meaning the mole never runs out of grubs.
The Crunch of Insects
While earthworms are the clear favorite food, moles also like to snack on invertebrates in the dirt. This can include (but isn't limited to):
- Insect larvae
Basically, anything that gets in the mole's way as it "swims" through the soil can become dinner.
Curious what it looks like for a mole to prey on their food, check out the below video that shows a mole eating worms!
Why Do Moles Eat This Way?
Do you think moles ever get hungry for animal meat?
Probably not. But why?
Well, a mole's physical traits, actions, and appetite act as variables to explain why this steady diet of insects fulfills and energizes this mysterious animal.
Physical Characteristics of Moles
To take in WHY moles enjoy earthworms and other invertebrates so much, it's important to know a little bit about their bodies.
So what do moles look like?
The mole's front feet are more wide than long, and they are stuck to the sides of the mole's body. This seriously limits a mole's ability to "catch" prey in the traditional sense.
This is where the importance of having a snout comes in.
The snout of most types of moles is cylindrical and protracted in front of its face. This snout is the perfect size and shape to hold an earthworm in place while consumption can take place.
Think of a mole's snout like you would an elephant's: almost like a hand to assist with taking in food.
The outlier in the mole family in terms of using the snout to its advantage is the star-nosed mole--an otherworldly-looking creature with (you guessed it) a star-looking collection of tentacles where a snout would normally be.
These superstars (no pun intended) of the burrows use their alien-like snouts to grip and basically absorb anything edible faster than the human eye can see.
Moles are not party animals.
In fact, they spend most of the 3 or so years that they're alive below the ground, mostly living alone in burrows they dig for themselves. If they DO reach the surface of the dirt, it's either mating season or purely accidental.
Worms, slugs, larvae and other invertebrates are plentiful in the dirt where the mole spends nearly its entire lifespan.
This food supply is delivered right into the mole's mouth via its snout with minimal effort and almost no resistance, which contributes heavily to its dietary patterns.
Did you know that moles eat almost their entire body weight each day?
Moles, while extremely antisocial, are not sedentary animals. They dig the tunnel networks in which they live nearly every waking moment, and can actually burrow up to 100 feet per day if the soil is moist.
All that exercise means that your average mole is going to need to fuel up as often as possible.
All the insects and worms in the soil are perfect for this; a mole can simple chomp on whatever is handy and get the energy it needs to keep digging.
Will Moles Deviate From This Diet?
It's normal to wonder what would happen if you tried to feed a mole something different.
After all, moles in captivity will eat frogs, mutton, and even cheese with no qualms whatsoever.
If you're trying to lure a mole out of your yard, should you use some of the popular methods floating around the web?
Let's take a look at some of the most popular ones.
Will Moles Eat Peanut Butter?
Here's the thing: a slew of different pests can be lured by peanut butter. It (alongside peppermint oil) is basically the gold standard of vermin control.
The mole? Not so much.
Because this animal has evolved to crave a very specific insectivore diet, its tastes simply don't include that of nuts or sugar.
Also, its habitat isn't conducive to a peanut butter bait. Most vermin and rodents can easily sniff out the distinct aroma of peanut butter and run toward a dollop of it because they live out in the open.
Moles, on the other hand, are subterranean, which means they dwell below ground. You can't exactly shove a dollop of peanut butter in the dirt and expect that a mole will smell it and be attracted to it.
Juicy Fruit Gum Kills Moles, Right?
There's a ton of internet fodder that you can effectively kill moles in your yard with Juicy Fruit gum.
The myth goes like this: if you cut up strips of Juicy Fruit or a similar off-brand and place the strips within a mole's tunnel system, the mole will eat it and become constipated, ultimately dying from waste buildup.
This is false as moles are not killed by juicy fruit. This is for a few reasons.
- A mole isn't attracted to the smell of gum, and would probably treat it like a foreign object. The gum would register as inedible via the nerve endings in their snouts, and the mole would pass it by.
- A human scent in a mole's tunnel is grounds for the mole to pack up and tunnel somewhere else in the yard. For this reason, the mole would probably never get to the gum.
- If the mole DID ingest the gum, it would be purely accidental. Whether or not the gum would work to constipate and kill the mole is unproven, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
How Do You Kill a Mole With Dish Soap?
Another popular myth floating around the web is that dish soap can effectively kill a mole.
This is inaccurate once again as dish soap does not kill moles. This is for a couple of grounds:
- Many internet searches actually refer to mole crickets instead of moles, which can lead to a lot of confusion.
- The mole crickets actually don't die because of the dish soap, but they rise to the surface due to the change in the soil with its presence.
HOW THIS CAN WORK FOR MOLES: Theoretically, applying a dish soap and water solution to your soil can make the resident earthworms rise up in the same way that the mole crickets surface.
But cutting off (or drastically reducing) the food source of a mole tunneling through your yard, you can starve it, or at least force it to go burrow somewhere else.
What Do Moles Eat in the Garden?
Does having a mole mean that all your plants will be half-eaten when you look out at your garden every morning?
Keep reading to see how flora is affected by a mole's incredible appetite.
Destroyed Root Systems
Moles have been said to damage important root families with their constant activity underground.
While it's commonly assumed that this damage is caused by their incessant snacking, it's actually the act of burrowing itself that's causing the damage.
These weakened roots can harm the trees, shrubs, or plants to which they're attached above the soil, and lead to soft, eroded patches of dirt.
We've all heard the expression, "Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill."
How'd this phrase come about?
Well, if you've ever had a mole on your property, you are fully educated on the signs of moles in the yard. You'll know all about mounds of dirt pushed up to the surface of the ground, dotting the landscape of your grass in ugly little hills.
In addition to these mole hills, you might see a snaking of dirt like a river system spread out across your grass.
So, do moles eat plants?
Nope. It's commonly believed that a mole will eat through the grass from above to get to the soil below, but this is actually incorrect. What they're really doing: tunneling so furiously that the loose soil is excavated and sits along the grass.
The Bottom Line About Moles and Their Diet
Because of their reclusive lifestyle, their nonstop digging, and their unbelievable appetite, it's common to believe that these guys eat a variety of food items.
Though there's a ton of speculation to the contrary, moles are some of the pickiest eaters in the mammal kingdom.
Simply put: they really only like worms, larvae, and other invertebrates. If they're interfering with plants or other food sources, it's merely accidental.
Other Mole Guides
Looking for other mole guides and product reviews? Check out the below articles to help you out!