More Frequently Asked Questions about Mole Catching
- You have caught my mole, will I get any more?
- Which is the best trap to use?
- How do I become a mole catcher?
Q: You have caught my moles, will I get any more?
A: There is a relatively high risk of another mole appearing in the majority of gardens and lawns that I visit.
However some properties will not have another mole for years. Then one will suddenly turn up when you could very much do without it, like just after laying some turf!
Your location and surrounding mole population is the main deciding factor to the increased likelihood of another mole.
Moles being territorial to a degree, will not normally invade another mole’s feeding area unless the occupant of that area has been removed. If a mole is trapped and removed other moles nearby will be able to sense this and may move in if the feeding is good. If the whole area has been trapped well and other moles have also been removed then it can be a year or so before the area gets badly infested again.
You can also be unfortunate enough to have a main run passing through your garden, either at a depth or a shallow tunnel along a perimeter fence or hedge.
Here many moles will be using the same tunnel and 5 or more moles can be caught in less than a week.
Usually all activity then stops.
In periods of drought and prolonged dry spells like this earlier this year, moles may concentrate in areas that are retaining moisture. If you have a water feature, a soakaway, or a natural spring in your garden and all surrounding ditches and water sources are empty, you will have a steady procession of moles coming just for water.
I’ve cleared many a farmers’ field of moles this year by having a trap in an adjacent domestic garden that has a source of water.
Q: Which is the best trap to use?
A: Unfortunately there is no one type of mole trap that is 100% perfect for every soil and weather condition.
Many molecatchers swear by one type and swear at another.
From meeting and talking to many molecatchers over the years I have come to the conclusion that a molecatchers preference of trap stems from what they were taught to use or learnt to use years ago. Most find it difficult to adapt to using another style of trap, stating they cannot catch moles with other types.
Also the type of ground in the area a molecatcher normally catches will have a bearing on the type of trap that they use.
I use 3 types of mole trap for good reason, so I can catch moles anywhere, in any soil type and any weather condition.
These three traps are:
1. Duffus half-barrel mole trap. Widely available, though there are some terrible, cheap and flimsy imported versions about. Perhaps the most common trap used by professional molecatchers. Light weight to carry, able to catch two moles at once, good for all types of mole run, deep and shallow. Can be difficult to set correctly for new molecatchers and reported to be prone to getting filled with soil by some, but that is operator error and not a trap design fault. Works well everywhere with perhaps the exception of loose soils, but this can be overcome if you know to use them properly.
2. Talpex mole trap. Not freely available, expensive, bulky and heavy but stackable. Exceptionally strong spring making them difficult and dangerous for people with weak or small hands to set, but the most humane mole trap to date. Suitable for all depths of tunnel. Good for wet conditions and loose soils. Not the best trap to use in very hard ground.
3. Scissor mole trap, often call pincher mole trap. This is what most people think of when a mole trap is mentioned. You can pick them up in most garden shops, DIY centres etc. Unfortunately a lot of them are rubbish, with the main concern being weak springs. Even the best scissor traps lag behind the previous two to terms of a humane kill. This trap tends to restrain and squeeze a mole rather than kill it outright. Death can be over a period of hours with weak traps, NOT GOOD. This trap is a favourite of farmers and amateur molecatchers, probably because it is the easiest of all the traps to set. They are bulky and heavy; generally only good for shallow runs, and lets everyone know you have put a trap down with the two arms stuck up in the air. At least you can see from a distance if the trap has gone off (and so can any one else passing by).
So as you can see there is no trap that is 100% perfect in all conditions, though the Duffus trap comes closest. Any molecatcher just using one type of trap is putting them selves at a disadvantage if they are trapping for a living. If you only go molecatching when the conditions suit your choice of trap, then this is not an issue.
Recently I have seen two completely new styles of mole trap; I’ve not tried them yet, but from the pictures have noticed design flaws in both of them making them only suitable for one type of tunnel and soil condition. The designers must think that molecatchers work in a controlled working environment, where there are no other variable factors to take into account.
Q: How do I become a mole catcher?
A: First of all it would be a distinct advantage to have been brought up in a rural environment. Then you would probably have most of the necessary knowledge and attributes without even realising you had them.
To start from scratch, you need to gather as much information as you can find. There are books available, the Internet and there are training courses you can go on.
I knew basically what to do from being a child, but really developed my techniques much later on by time consuming trial and error; find a field full of molehills, take a selection of traps, add a lot of free time and an open mind, noting and recording what worked in a particular situation and what didn’t.
The result was that I was able to remove the luck element from mole catching and replaced it with a scientific component and that, along with a logical, reasoned approach meant I was able to guarantee a successful result every time. For me Mole Catching had become an exact science.
This is where what you read and get told starts to confuse things, because asking two molecatchers how to go about catching a mole will more than likely get you two completely different sets of answers. How one molecatcher sets their traps can be different to another. You need to find out what works best for you.
There are other skills and knowledge that will help to increase your catch and make you more efficient. Just think about the time wasted by finding runs and setting 100 traps only to catch 20 moles, what if you could catch the same number of moles just using 30 or 40 traps, or having the knowledge to know that you do need to set 100 traps because you will catch 60+ over the next two days.
You need a very sound knowledge of the mole and how it goes about its day. As much information as you can find about farming and agriculture if you intend doing farm mole control. You need a good understanding of the weather and climate and ideally a better ability to forecast the weather than the experts on the TV. A good knowledge of the different types of soils and soil layers and how this will affect the mole and the invertebrates that live there. A general interest and appreciation for the countryside, wildlife and nature in general and finally, to be able and not mind working outdoors in all weathers. Yes it’s the ultimate place to be on a nice warm spring morning, in the middle of the countryside, doing something you enjoy and are good at, but you have to feel the same way about it when it’s windy, dark and pouring with rain, or it’s – 5 degrees, your nose is dripping like a tap and you can’t feel your fingers. The Joys of Mole Catching.