How to Identify and Get Rid of Moles


Here are tips on how to identify and get rid of moles in the garden or yard.

What Are Moles?

Moles are ground–dwelling carnivores that prefer to eat insects instead of your garden plants. However, their underground tunnels can ruin your garden and lawn and make an easy access to your plants for other rodents.

If you have a significant invasion of moles or similar pests, it may be a sign of trouble. Moles are usually found where soil is rich in organic matter. Their presence in unusually large numbers might be due to a high population of soil pests. It therefore serves as a warning that all is not well with the soil life.


How to Identify Moles in your Garden

Moles are surprising little mammals with pointed muzzles, tiny eyes, and bodies shaped like Idaho potatoes. In motion they actually swim along underground, using wide front flippers to part the soil as they go. They prefer moist, loamy soil and are most active in the early morning or evening in the spring or fall; they also come out after a warm rain.

Moles have the distinguishing characteristic of a hairless, pointed snout. Their small eyes and ear canals are concealed by fur, and they do not have external ears. They have very large and broad forefeet with webbed toes. Their hind feet or more narrow and have slender claws. They are usually about 7 inches in length and weigh about 4 ounces.

Mole Damage

  • Moles usually feed on insect pests, grubs, and soil organisms, including beneficial ones like earthworms.
  • Unlike vegetarian voles, moles dig deep. Their tunnels are usually at least ten inches underground, unless they’re scanning the surface in search of a mate. Check your soil and lawn for their tunnels. They will look like raised volcano-shaped swellings in your yard.
  • Surface tunnels or ridges also indicate mole activity.


Control and Prevention

How to Deter Moles

  • If you have a persistent mole problem, the best solution is trapping. Frankly, this is often the only way to get rid of moles. Use a humane trap, and release the moles at least 5 miles from your home in a rural area away from someone else’s garden. See more details below.
  • Placing ultrasonic devices or noisemakers such as spinning daisies near the runs are often effective.
  • Owning a cat that enjoys walking through your flower beds is a very effective deterrent to rodents.
  • Moles are carnivores that make themselves at home in lawns rich in grubs and insects. When their food is seasoned with castor oil, they will go elsewhere for meals. (Wouldn’t you?) Mix up a spray of 3 parts castor oil to 1 part dish detergent; use 4 tablespoons of this concoction in a gallon of water, and soak the tunnels and the entrances.
  • Dip an ear of corn in roofing tar and place it in one of their tunnels. Moles hate the smell of tar, and you’ll block their escape.
  • Some readers say it works to sprinkle dried blood, tobacco, powdered red pepper, or coffee grounds near tunnel entrances. Remember to re-apply after a rain.
  • However, many folk remedies do not control moles, such as placing gum, human air, bleach, ammonia or mothballs near the tunnels. And remember that moles will not eat peanuts or grain; they are insectivores.
  • You may have luck using wind power—setting up vibrations in the ground that will bother moles and send them away. Low-tech methods include kids’ pinwheels placed here and there on the lawn, or a homemade thumper: Cut fins in the sides of a bleach bottle and place it on a stick driven into the ground near a mole entrance.
  • Finally, there are mole repellents as well as baits though we do not personally use. Bromethalin is sold in the form of a worm-shaped bait; place baits in an active mole run. Correct placement is critical; read and follow all directions provided with the product.

Trapping Moles

No permit is required for trapping. Place traps so that they will be triggered as moles travel in the runs. 

Before placing a trap, make sure the run is active by pressing down with your foot; if the soil is pushed up the next day, the run is still active. 

Straight runs, especially those near the edges of a driveway or sidewalk, are preferred. It the trap does not catch a run in two days, move the trap to a different run.


Prevent Moles

  • Check out your soil for the presence of pests; if you have a lot of moles, you may have an oversupply of grubs and bugs. You can try getting rid of the grubs with beneficial nematodes, however, it doesn’t necessary mean the moles will go away; grubs are only part of their diet. 
  • If you want to protect specific plants, dig a 2- to 3-foot hole and line the sides and bottom of the hole with wire mesh. Fill the hole with soil and plant.
  • Where you are determined to try bulbs, make a small “cage” of ½-inch mesh screen. Place several bulbs inside, root plate down and bury the entire cage at the proper depth. Rodents won’t be able to chew through, but roots and stems can grow out. Note: moles are often blamed for the damaged caused by field mice.

Learn more about moles and what they do in your yard. Do you have comments or questions about moles? Let us know below!


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

PREDATOR vs Prey Drive

Another solution to attempt is to go to Walmart/Academy Sports/Amazon online, and purchase (Red Fox Urine or Grey Wolf Urine), for approximately less than $20USD a bottle.

You take the urine bottle (Stand UP WIND!+ Wear GLOVES!), and either spray the Urine on ‘Scent Keys’ (Shaped like a “P” or a “T”) (OR) Spray the Urine on a material like a Cat Ball (cotton or fabric material that will hold the scent) (OR) Cotton Material Scraps/Rags, and
THEN take those sprayed items with the Urine Scent on them and Place one at each corner of Your Yard (at each corner of Your garden+Midway/the middle of each side of your garden - creating a box barrier), and midway/middle of each side of Your Yard - basically, You are creating an invisibility Box Scent Barrier. You can ALSO place some of the Scent Keys, Scent Balls, Scent Scraps down INSIDE the tunnel(s). The ‘smell’ of the Predator is what will drive the prey away.

The Theory behind this treatment is based on the Predator vs Prey Drive. That something bigger (Predator) that might EAT ME!, has moved into the area, so I (Smaller/Prey) should MOVE OUT! It usually works almost immediately, so it is best to apply this just before Dusk at night, so the prey naturally wakes up/becomes active and immediately looks to move out+Leave!

This works especially well, if You use the urine of an animal’s natural Predator. Moles, Voles, Field Mice, Etc are ALL PREY of Red Foxes!..Also, in the comments above, where someone states they used ‘Human Urine’, it likely had a similar effect, although not sure a Mole,Vole, Chipmunk, Mouse will recognize a Human as a natural predator+cause them to relocate.

Note: Must use when NOT raining, and reapply after rain (obviously the smell washes away)..

No Guarantee this will work for You, But, at like approx.$8usd a bottle for the Red Fox Urine it’s not much of an investment to lose if it doesn’t.

Plus, I have used this successfully to treat for house mice, (spread sprayed items under the house+sprayed each corner and midway of the house’s foundation/skirting), mice moved out in 24-48hrs. Continue to apply 1xweek, then 1x every 2wks, then 1x Mthly, unless they return, if they return, then step up treatment again to weekly.

I also had a small porch and something had crawled inside it, so just before dusk, I sprayed the heck out of that porch with the Urine. I went inside and waited to see what would happen. 10-15min (max) later, and whatever it was tore its way out from under the porch and took off & never returned..(I missed seeing it, because I got bored waiting, but I’m fairly sure it was a raccoon or a opossum).

Btw, do NOT use moth balls, read the label, they are horrid for the environment & can cause breathing issues for humans & bad for pets.

Yes!, this is No Kill, Yes, it moves the pests out of your property to the woods or someone else’s area, but that’s the nature of Humans living in Suburbia.
We are living in their environment.
Your neighbor may not garden, may not care, or may not even notice there are moles in their yard (or) the moles may move to the woods behind your houses or the open field where no one lives. You do not necessarily need to kill the Moles, Voles, Chipmunks, Mice, as they all serve their own purpose in nature, from pest control, etc..

Good Luck!!!

Mole war

Last August our area was flooded which moved moles into my yard. Tried smoke flares, poison granules, glue boards, traps, repellent, human hair, planting garlic and green onions on edge of flower beds, buzzing stakes, and even called a pest control company ( they used the wrong bait, thought I said VOLES). The gummy worm did kill one mole last fall which my old cat found.( Told they would die underground). I've been trying to push it away from going deeper into my prized flower garden with 6" boards. So far it won't dig under them. The mounds can be huge, with 4"+ wide tunnels. Nearby a mound now something is eating my Veronicas. This sure is a smart monster! To hire a good pest control guy is over $350. The mound always appear in the morning, sometimes just a little hill, other times huge.

Caught Moles with Post Hole

Had been digging post holes to repair a fence and found that several holes kept catching moles that would fall in and were unable to dig out. Not sure if its because the earth was packed and they couldn't break through or what, but worked fairly well.

mole or brown round mouse

brown big like a silver dollar screams like a mouse cant see legs black little eyes ,is it a baby mole or mouse ??? and very fast

animal ID

The Editors's picture

It sounds like it might be a mouse or vole. The eyes of moles are not easily seen, and their front feet are easily identifiable, looking like sort of large, pink/tan digging claws (for tunneling); their ears are not conspicuous. Shrews have a pointed snout; usually their fur color is gray to black, and their ears, eyes, and tail are small. Voles are mouse-like, brown with gray undersides, with rounded ears, but shorter tail than a mouse; usually larger than an adult mouse (although there are several species of each type), but smaller eyes; they have a rounded snout. Depending on the species, wild mice can be small or large, and gray, black, or brown; they have prominent eyes, long tails, big ears, and can run very fast; their snout is pointed, but not as much as a shrew’s. If this animal is inside, it may more likely be a mouse versus a mole, shrew, or vole; it is especially rare to have a mole or vole inside the home. Hope this helps!

Moles in my garden

After putting castor oil and washing detergent in my garden what will happen to the vegetables in my garden.


"And remember that moles will not eat peanuts or grain; they are vegetarians."

I'm quoting from your article about moles. Do they eat insects and worms?


The Editors's picture

Whoops, thanks for catching that! Moles are indeed insectivores (carnivores), as stated elsewhere in the article.

Moles in winter

Question: Do moles hibernate? I live in southwestern PA. We have had freezing temperatures lately. Yet still see several dirt volcanoes. Plus, my dog barks at the ground and digs holes everywhere. Could she be hearing moles in the ground?

Do Moles Hibernate?

The Editors's picture

Hi Becci,

It is a common misconception that moles hibernate: they do not. Your dog is most likely hearing or smelling the moles. They dig holes close to the surface during winter, and retreat further underground during the summer. 


Can you make a pet out of the moles. Or do they carry disease’s?

moles as pets

The Editors's picture

Interesting question! We would not recommend having a wild mole as a pet, however, for a number of reasons. Although we don’t know about the disease aspect, keeping any wildlife could go against certain laws; you might want to check regulations in your area first. Also, as we understand it, moles need specialized care, and don’t take well to captivity. They require feeding several times per day – even a few hours without food might make them ill or worse. (They like earthworms and underground insects that can be hard to come by.) They also like to be enclosed, in dark places, with lots of dirt and space to tunnel, which is usually impractical for most pet owners. You also have to keep track of the temperature in their environment, as they are sensitive. Plus, they do not like to be held, and can get very scared if handled. They are also territorial, and need to be kept separate from other moles. Sometimes, people need to take care of wild moles temporarily if they become injured, before releasing them back into the wild, usually with the help from wildlife rehabilitation specialists. Otherwise, we’d suggest choosing another animal who could be comfortable and happy as a pet. Hope this helps!

Moles OUT!

I put my cats litter down the mole holes - esp. the POOP! They leave is a very short time. Don't cover the hole when you fill it - the smell of the cat litter is drawn down into their tunnel. I have no mole problems.

wondering if I have moles

My backyard don’t have the dirt thrown on top like your picture. It has holes in my yard in a lot of places. So please!!!’ Help me figure this out if it’s not moles then what could it possibly be. I noticed a few now it’s a lot and I don’t like it. That’s never happened before.
Thank you


Sounds like armadillo. They dig holes looking for worms grubs

Vegetable Garden Irradication of Moles

Play Prince next to your tomato plants with a blue tooth it loudly during am & pm hours of mole happy hours this will detour other feature moles! After one week....repeat the same play list only louder. You might need to weed your garden more often but the moles will not be gone..

Holes in my yard

If the holes are a couple of inches in diameter and no tunnels lifting ground up around area it's most likely it's chip monks making the holes.


We have had good success with human urine!


I live in the northeast and have trouble with groundhogs. Nothing seems to work . Any suggestions on how I can get rid of them. We have tried everything .

Groundhogs (Woodchucks)

Buy some Havahart traps. Bait them with cabbage leaves, put a tarp or blanket over the top of the trap to simulate underground. Take them far away from your house and dump them in a wooded area.


The Editors's picture

Check out our page on Groundhogs for tips on keeping them out of your garden!


My grandfather used to grow a Castor bean plant or two every year just to get rid of moles, When he found a new hill he would put a couple of the castor beans sown in it and soon the moles were gone. I dont know why, but it worked.

Mole removal

2 years ago I came across a product called Gopher Out. It is a liquid that is poured in the mounds of gophers, moles, and voles. Then 10 gallons of water are put in the mound. The moles have not been back since. It does NOT kill them it only repels them. And it is safe for all animals and people. I don't remember where I bought it but I'm sure Google can help.

Moles etc

The person who rents my farm does me no favors as he uses sulphur and then a weed burner to chase them out of their tunnels or kill them. The results are that they end up in my yard area and I have to do the same.

So much nonsense.

Everyone here talking about "humanely" getting rid of moles on his or her property, listen up: it isn't possible.

Even if it *were* possible to deter moles from tunneling your lawn or garden by tarring corncobs, planting gum in the ground without touching it, or setting up pinwheel wind-farms—which it most definitely isn't—all you've done is solve your problem at the expense of introducing a problem for your neighbors. Which is a crappy thing to do to someone who lives next door to you.

So, the "humane" solution would be to trap and re-home the critters, right? Wrong.

The reason why moles do so much damage is because they have to _constantly_ be actively searching for prey. Moles must eat 60-100% of their body weight DAILY in order to survive. If you were to trap a live mole (good luck!) and then drive it to the woods to "re-home" it, you've more than likely already signed its death-warrant.

Moles dig those incredibly complex underground systems of tunnels for one reason: to maximize their chances of catching enough food to survive. If you take an established mole out of the ground and force it to start over in a new place without its existing tunnel system, it has to start completely over by digging a new tunnel system. The chances of the mole being able to sustain itself without its existing tunnels and the food they provide (mainly by way of earth worms) is just about zero.

So: you either 1) love moles enough to leave them alone, in which case they'll constantly dig up your yard/ruin your garden, or 2) you like your lawn/garden without mole tunnels and mounds MORE than you love moles, which means getting rid of the moles by either trapping/re-homing them (which, as I said, will kill them 99 times out of 100) or setting kill traps.

Those are your only options. If you love your yard/garden, suck it up and exterminate them yourself. If you can't bear the thought of killing a mole, then you'd better get used to having your yard tilled up at random by blind, subterranean rodents.

thanks .. don't have time or

thanks .. don't have time or desire to spend time catching and actually never seen one --- only massive damage doing to lawn and beds. Ruining my lawn which is too large to micromanage, and now attacking front yard and mulch beds full of plants -- all turned over to dirt mounds.
Is there a Chemical treatment that works?

moles, armadillos,////////// what else

cayenne pepper castor oil what big holes in front yard with dirt mound what


I want to kill them, I love my lawn and garden much more than trying to save a mole. I am looking for ways to KILL them.I will try any suggestions.

Minty Mole deterrent

I am having very good luck with dried peppermint or spearmint sprinkled over active areas. When it runs them farther into other areas, I follow with the mint. Water it in or do before rain. You'll see! I buy the mint from Penney.

Burrowing rodent in my medical marijuana Garden

I used 2/3 a bottle of extract and mixed it with some gallons of water and spread it around my plants then later on that night because I didn't think I had enough to do it for another time I mixed it in with my plant food. And I saw absolutely no activity all the way up until this morning and I started doing the mint somewhere around Tuesday or Wednesday but yes I hope I end up having the faith you do in it because it seems to work okay now I just hope that it keeps working. The question I have though is I have seen no Mounds around my house I know my dogs have been digging around the base of my shed and you don't like my pathway and stuff but there's been no Mounds or anything the first sign other than my dogs digging I've seen was in my garden and then there was no Mounds in there either the only evidence I had of them being in there was that my littlest plant was completely pushed up like it had been pulled up on the stock but I know that not to be the case so it had to be some sort of rodent I'm hoping a mole that way they won't mess with the roots anyway.



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