Update on Mole Problem

prairie_gardener(3a - Alberta)September 10, 2005

A while ago, I had asked for advice on Castor Oil to control moles. Well, I found a supplier in Vancouver. But, it did not work at all.

The same applies to the smoke cartridges. In retrospective, I feel the smoke cartridges (Giant Destroyer) at best annoyed the critters and made them move a little bit for a few days.

At the UFA store, I discovered Gopher traps called "Black Box", made by a company called Victor. I do not know how well they work with gophers but they sure do a great job catching moles. In fact, I caught 13 of the critters in as little as 3 weeks !! The advantage of the traps: there is no guessing (as with the Castor Oil or the smoke cartridges) - I know I got one when I empty a trap. When I consider the area/ route at which activity stopped after I had caught one, there is no way the smoke cartridges can have covered even just 5 % of the tunnel system.

I few things which I learned in the process:

The tunnels are seldom directly under the dirt piles. They are right at the edge. In my previous posting I had complained that I cannot find the holes - this explains it. I had been misguided by several articles/ pictures which compared the dirt piles to a minature volcane with the "pipe" right in the centre of the dirt pile.

I try to set the traps in a 30 degree angle to expose the hole at the end of the trap to as much light as possible.

There can be more than 1 mole per hole/ tunnel.

When the moles move in, they come in packs of 4-6 animals. All the articles that I have found on the Internet claim there are generally 1 or 2 per acre - dead wrong. This includes articles from the US Extension Service which should know better.

A few moles will throw dirt into the trap; in fact they pack it solid with dirt. One just has to persist, clean the trap and set it again. I never cleaned a trap more than 4 times before I eventually caught the "dirt thrower".

Most articles warn that there is not only the immediate damage to the garden but, the extensive tunnel systems attract mice, rats and other unwanted critters. One may want to add weasels to the list. I caught one weasel too - not that I had intented to. Before the weasel got into the trap, I found several times a trap tossed 1-2 ft away from where I had placed it - I guess it must have been the weasel exiting a tunnel.

I do not think, I will ever get rid of the moles. There are probably hundreds in the vicinity. So, I will watch the perimeter and trap before the critters dig up my flower beds.


just noticed, the words "dirt" and "garden" are double underlined and look different from the rest of my text. How does that come about - never had it happen to me before ???

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prairie gardener, your story made me chuckle, sorry! My dad went through the same thing, except he was clearing moles out of our pastures... there's a task! He found that the most effective method of erradication was using the Black Box, there are a few different ones on the market, they all work on the same principle.
He would faithfully take a drive every morning and evening and check the traps. I think at one point he had 13+ traps set.
The biggest problem was the coyotes stopping by for a lazy snack. They would dig up the trap, mole & all and disappear into the bushes with them.
Sometimes Dad would find the trap, sometimes not so lucky. That started getting expensive so he finally resorted to tethering the traps to 3 ft. long pieces of rebar driven into the ground. That worked sometimes...

Hang in there, you'll win your battle eventually!

(The double underlines are just another invasive form of advertising put upon us by iVillage...)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 9:32AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

PG thanks for sharing your mole info. I haven't had them but it's good to know.

To get rid of the underlines, hold your cursor over the word and a little annoying box will pop up with an advertisement. There is a thing in the corner that says "What's this?" - click it and halfway down the page there is a place to turn it off. You won't see the underlines again unless you are on a different computer or delete your cookies.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 10:32AM
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Please ignore this observation if you are speaking of a property outside of the prairies (prehaps you are speaking of a summer property somewhere).

You definitely don't have a mole problem if your garden issue is in Alberta. We don't have moles in Alberta.

Our garden and anyone else's garden in Albera are completely mole free. Moles are insectivores and the only insectivores in Alberta are shrews and they don't do any damage of any type.

You have an issue with some type of rodent. Rodents are less related to moles than humans are. (If your property is outside of the Prairies you could have moles but definitety not in Alberta or surrounding area).

One concern I have with folks controlling pests in the garden is that they often misidentify the culprit. Other insects, birds, mammals, etc. often are victims of our misuse of traps, chemicals, etc. There will be curled leaves on a tree, for example, and the false assumption is that the ladybug larva crawling around the garden are the culprits...out comes the spray to kill all the insects when the issue was a bacteria immune to any spray.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 1:14PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Yeah they are probably pocket gophers. People call them moles. See link. This might be why you were getting mixed info on the moles.

Funny, what people insist are gophers around here are actually Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrels. And then there are the people who call Goldfinches "canaries". I guess it doesn't matter what people want to call things, you can't tell em.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pocket Gophers

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 3:03PM
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On the prairies 'Gophers' are usually Richardson Ground Squirrels. 'Moles' often either voles or pocket gophers. It's a positive to identify who is who when there's an issue. The 'damage' is often exaggerated from these creatures (not that it can't sometimes be a nuisance).

Ground nesting bitds, etc. can get caught in traps meant for ground squirrels. Birds of prey are often poisoned themselves by eating rodents killed by poisons.

I'm not against controling pests when warranted but we're not perfect and our gardens don't have to be either.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 6:45PM
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prairie_gardener(3a - Alberta)

Now that it has been decided that they not moles - what are they ??

They look like moles
They burry extensive tunnel systems like moles
They throw up dozens and dozens of "mole" hills
They behave like moles

Perhaps the 3 wise people can enlighten me

By the way, Alberta is officially/ by government decree rat free. How come the by-law officers went all out to catch a bunch of them not long ago in Midnapore (Calgary).

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 7:22PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

PG look at the link I posted - they are probably pocket gophers. Have big funny scoop feet and dig holes like moles and everything.

In Manitoba our ground squirrels are 13-lined not Richardsons.

The article I posted goes into detail about control, and apparently the best thing you can do is keep trapping them so the population does not explode. Since you are checking your traps and obviously not catching any ground nesting birds or desirable species, I think your course of action is fine.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 7:28PM
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I don't know what it is but it is eating green tomatoes and has chewed away at a few melons. I hate it. The only consolation is that when the season is over and everything is dug up it will have to 'go away' one way or the other. Joe, Winnipeg.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 10:55PM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

We had a couple of pocket gophers earlier in the year. We are in a new development on the outskirts of Edmonton. I had never seen these before and I'm a native Edmontonian. DH killed the first one that was trapped in our window well and one of our cats decided the second one would make a good meal and just left "evidence" (nasty teeth and a nasty front paw) to prove that she got it. Haven't seen anymore but I think my good, garden cats are still keeping an eye out for them. According to the article in the link above, they do not hibernate and are active through the winter under the snow. I plan on keeping an eye out for them this winter and hopefully, we get no more.

BTW, the rat program in Alberta is rather interesting. I investigated it a bit when we discovered the pocket gophers and we have poison stations set up along both borders, in cooperation with the border farmers. Most that we do get are either brought in on a shipment from somewhere else or are occasionally escaped commercial, live food for pet snakes, etc. It is unlawful to own rats for this purpose in Alberta. The program cannot be entirely foolproof for obvious reasons, but I sure like knowing that they are few and far between in Alberta.


Here is a link that might be useful: Alberta Rat control program

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 2:46AM
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dentaybow(Z3A MN)

Prairie gardener- wish you much luck on ridding your gardens of these nasty pests. And you can call them anything you want!

If you need a little cheering up in your battle against these critters.....check out the link below. Full of humor and amazing 'remedies' folks have tried in an effort to rid their gardens of these destructive animals. Chewing gum?

Here is a link that might be useful: Moles/gophers

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 6:51AM
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The moles just laugh at all those remedies such as castor oil, pellets, sprays, plastic worms and whatever. The best thing is moth balls. The box cost about $2.00. drop a few in their tunnels. They leave and when they go they're mad as hell.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 5:34PM
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