Latest Mole News
If you live anywhere in the North West
you’d have to be blind not to have noticed the increased mole activity. This
winter is as bad as I can ever remember and that’s going back to the days of
MAFF and strychnine.
My farm clients have been contacting me roughly 2 months earlier
than in a normal year. So from October time I’ve pretty much been booked up 2
to 3 months in advance. I’ve farm work taking me up till May and I'm now taking
orders for summer silage work and even for next year 2018. As a result my
catches have been very high since autumn 2016 and I’m currently just short of
3000 moles in fewer than 5 months. That may seem a lot but it’s only averaging
150 per week. Considering the shorter daylight hours I have had to content with
during mid winter, I hope to pick up on weekly catches as we go into spring and
if we have another warm damp summer, maybe I’ll create a new personal record
for moles caught.
It’s just not the number of mole hills that are about that indicates
what’s going on, I caught the 1st female showing signs of coming into season on 16th
That is quite a few weeks earlier than normal, but the mild
winter we are having is turning nature upside down. I was gutting shot pregnant
rabbits over Christmas and I wouldn’t be surprised to see queen bumble bees and
wasps emerging from hibernation at any time if temperatures stay as high as
they currently are.
Unfortunately for my domestic customers, who ring up
expecting an immediate response to a mole that has suddenly appeared in their
garden, I have to turn a lot of this work away at present. My first priority is
to my farm work, farmers who have booked me months in advance. Also I am constantly
investing heavily in capital equipment for my farm work, equipment that is not
needed to catch a garden mole. I have upwards of 40K in my truck, quad, trailer etc and it’s pointless it sitting there not being used.
smile when pest control operatives talk about the mole catching season as being just limited to the early spring months. Late July through to October produces some of the busiest periods
of domestic mole work for me. All the young moles are weaned and set about
finding a new vacant territory for themselves, especially the females.
can have monthly call outs as another new mole finds the now vacant area after
the last mole has been caught. My record this year was 19 moles from one garden using two
traps over a period of about two weeks. Another garden had 7 moles from one
trap, one a day until the trap went quiet.
has produced some good weather conditions for moles, especially the young as although
the summer has been good temperature wise, it has not dried out the ground. There
has been plenty of rain along with the hot sun, so young moles have found it
easier to dig new tunnels and find food to survive.
It has been
a good year for the farmers as well, with many getting 4 cuts of grass, and
this has meant some farms will have seen me 5 times this year. Once before the
grass got going and then after each cut.
two weeks after the floods receded from the coastal farms, the moles were back
in action, just as though nothing had happened. The breeding season started
roughly the same time as usual, with the first females showing signs of coming
in season at the end of February.
Lots of the
farms I visited this spring had visual evidence of the flood damage caused by
swollen rivers and breached water defences. One farm lost over 300 big bale
silage that were swept away by flood waters.
Well I don’t think I’ll be breaking
last year’s mole catch record this year.
November and Decembers rain
have flooded many of the Fylde coast farms that I should have been working on,
and they may well miss out on any spring mole control as well if the grass
continues to grow like it is doing at present. With the land being so wet many
farms have not had sheep on to keep the grass growth in check. Also having such
a warm December has not helped either, allowing the grass to grow much better than
To keep busy I’ve changed
tactics and have been concentrating on the high hill farms and the numerous
farms with moss farm land. The hill farms mean that the rain water runs down the
slopes to the valleys and I can trap the upper fields hours after heavy rain.
The moss farms are unique in the fact that even flat fields are trappable
shortly after monsoon type rain because the moss acts a giant sponge and soaks
up the surface water very quickly. Provided the drainage dykes around these
fields are deep enough to accommodate the excess water I’m quickly back in business.
This has been my busiest
ever year for catching moles. I class the start of my working year when I begin
the rounds on the farms again in autumn, though this year I have never stopped
doing farm mole control. I put it down to last winter being so mild and a damp
summer without any drought conditions allowing the moles to breed very successfully.
It is quite normal for me to visit some farms twice a year, but some of the bigger
silage farms have had me round after each cut, that’s 4 visits this year.
As a result of so much farm
work I have completely smashed two mole records this year. I caught a total of 8093
moles this year (October 2014 to October 2015) and I managed to catch 9 moles per hour worked on one farm in
July that had never been trapped before. I think if I’d pulled my finger out I might have been able to raise that
to the magical 10 moles per hour.
seem two years since I bought my last truck and quad, but I’ve replaced both
this autumn. I covered over 70,000 miles in less than 23 months and I’d grown tired of changing gear so I’ve replaced both my truck and
quad with versions that have full automatic transmissions. My truck has also been kitted
out in the back to suit my mole operations better.
Summer 2014 Even More Records Smashed.
going on!!! July is normally a bit quieter on the mole front for me, I have fewer
farms to do, the domestic mole work is just ticking over nicely, so I can
concentrate more on my bee and rabbit work and essential equipment servicing
and repairs. But not this year.
It’s not just
the number of moles caught, but also the number of domestic jobs per day I’m
getting through. Week commencing Monday 14th July I travelled 1036
miles over the next 7 days, doing at least 15 mole jobs a day, with a record
for me of 21 gardens visited on the Wednesday. I did quite a few 18 hour days,
as I had rabbit contracts to deal with as well some days. Average weekly travel
mileage since the start of June as been well over 800 miles per week. My new
truck has covered just over 30,000 miles in 12 months.
Most of my
garden jobs were catching the majority of the moles in just one or two traps,
once I’d sussed out which runs were being used. There were more young moles
about this summer than I’ve seen for a long time. The average catch for most gardens
was 6 moles. Customers couldn’t believe the numbers caught in their gardens,
most thinking that moles were solitary mammals.
I put this
down to good weather conditions leading up to and during breeding, and the
timing of some heavy rain which coincided with the weaning of young moles. The
upper soil layers are still very moist, the worms are up there and it’s
relatively easy digging for a young mole. If we were in the middle of a
drought, things would be much different with many of the young moles perishing.
And as we
approach the end of British Summer Time, which is when I normally start to turn
my attention to the farms again for the next 6 months, I’m already catching
numbers more normally associated with spring breeding time. I’ve already had
one farm catch of 53 moles in less than 24 hours, the total moles caught was
149 for 163 traps set, which for October is going some.
April 2104 More Records
a very wet January and February, March and April have proved to be record mole
catching months. I did not think I would beat last years over night catch of 71
moles, but over the Easter Holidays I caught 84 moles, 51 whilst I was on site
setting 104 traps and 33 the next morning. And I had another 16 the morning
after. 100 moles from 104 traps in 16 hours of work, just over 6 moles an hour.
Kike is now 8 months old and just finished her 1st season. Her molecatching skills and
expertise have really improved with more experience of catching and killing
She is also becoming quite a celebrity; two
publications have found out about her from the internet and want to do features
on her and the breed. A third publication has also contacted me recently to get some
information on the breed.
I’m a little bemused by the whole thing, a dog
that catches moles, so what. Many breeds of dog catch moles, some are just
better at it than others. Just like human molecatchers really.
had a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that came molecatching with me for nearly all
of his 10 years. He was not as good as Kike, but he was very good at clearing
mice from livery yards. Cats actually make one of the best molecatchers.
February 2014 WET, WET, WET.
What more is there to say, the month when I would normally catch upwards of a 1000 moles and try to beat the previous years highest daily catch number is turning out to be pretty quiet. I’m still busy but not catching as many due to the amount of flooded and waterlogged farmland.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive another award from The Lancashire Safe Trader Scheme for customer feedback, so I must be doing something right.
January 2014 Females start their seasons early
Caught the first female of 2014 that was starting to show early signs of coming in season. A full month earlier than 2013.
I’m sure the mild weather we are having at the moment is responsible. The wet conditions are certainly not putting them off. It is wetter now than this time last year and many of my farm silage fields have already got a good 12 inches of grass growth.
Kike my mole dog is coming along great, at what stage I start trusting her instincts of where to put my traps, I’m not quite sure, but for a 5 month old dog she is exceptional. She travels around on the quad bike with me and is quite at home on it now.
Link is to a short video of part of her first public road trip, she has been over farmland on the quad from about 10 weeks old, but I refrained from taking her on the roads till this video.
December 2013 What a year for molecatching
Apologies for no regular snippets of news throughout this summer, but 2013 has been the busiest year ever for me and I’ve just not had the free time to update any of my websites. I have broken all previous records for moles caught in one day, moles caught in a 12 month period, and miles travelled both in my vehicle and on my quad bike. As I write this I’m currently on with two farms, one 700 acres and the other 1700 acres, and also just had an inquiry from a wealthy land owner who owns approx 7000 acres scattered about in blocks over Lancashire. There’s no shortage of work if you have the skills, experience and right equipment to do the job.
Mole rates for agricultural work will remain the same for 2014, but I have made changes to the rates charged for domestic work.
The 1st mole rate is increased to £40.00, but then all other moles caught in the same trapping session are only charged at £10.00 each.
Up to 3 moles in a garden will result in a slight increase in costs, but over this number, the overall cost will be reduced.
This is to more accurately account for my time when I have gardens with large numbers of moles present. To catch 12 moles in a garden does not take 4 times as long to catch 3 moles, and this year I have struggled to justify some final invoices to unfortunate owners of gardens where over 10 moles have been caught. I am finding that over the last two years mole numbers in gardens seem to be increasing and to catch 15 or more in a large garden is not an uncommon occurrence, not for me anyway.
It does not make things any easier when general public perception is that moles are solitary animals. In my experience they are anything but solitary and in fact appear to share areas with one another much more than say 10 years ago. Once I have found the right tunnel one trap can catch all the moles in an area. Even feeding runs will catch multiple moles, so there must be some sort of social acceptance of each other even in confined dead end tunnel systems.
I have taken on an apprentice, well a 4 legged one. I heard about a Dutch dog that apparently is good at catching moles. They were used by Dutch farmers to catch moles on their land, and some became so good that they were loaned to neighbouring farms. So I now have Dutch Stabij, Stabyhoun or Frisian Pointer as they are commonly known. She is one of 20 in the UK and the only one that is involved with molecatching. More information and pictures of this breed can be found at http://stabyhounuk.com. I will be uploading my own pictures of Kike to my photo album page shortly.