Mole Damage Identification

Identification | Biology | Damage ID | Management | Resources

Moles leave volcano-shaped hills made of soil pushed up from their deep tunnels (Figure 5a). The hills are 2 to 12 inches tall.  

Figure 5a. Mound made by a mole.  Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.
Figure 5b. Tunnel or run of a mole. Photo by Tom Olander.

The number of hills made by moles does not correspond to the number of moles in an area.  

Tunnels on the surface (Figure 5b) or ridges are indicative of mole activity. Mounds made by pocket gophers generally are kidney-shaped and made of finely sifted, cloddy soil (Figure 5c). Gophers typically leave larger mounds than moles. Mounds made by gophers often are built in a line or in clusters, indicative of a deeper system of tunnels. 

Damage to Structures 

Damage to structures by moles tends to be limited to patios made of brick and pools, where digging can dislodge and undermine items.  

Figure 5c. Side-by-side comparison of mounds made by a mole (left) and a pocket gopher (right).  Images by University of California-Davis. 

Damage to Livestock and Pets 

Moles do not pose a threat to animals, other than creating tunnels and mounds that increase the risk of tripping.   

Damage to Landscapes 

Moles frequently are blamed for damage to gardens, though the majority of direct damage is caused by rodents exploiting the tunnels of moles to gain access to plants. Damage by moles to plants, particularly turfgrass, tends to be limited to the separation of roots from the surrounding soil, caused by tunneling. 

Moles remove many damaging insects and grubs from lawns and gardens. However, burrowing by moles disfigures lawns and parks, destroys flower beds and the roots of grasses, and creates havoc in small gardens.  

Health and Safety Concerns 

No diseases are known to be transmitted from moles to humans.