Moles, the Untapped Fur

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    I fur trapped for several years.  During that time farmers began asking me to come back in the spring and trap their groundhogs and other unwanted animals. The word got around quickly and my nuisance control business evolved into what it is today.

    For a long time I did not mess with moles. After turning down several calls from potential customers asking me to get rid of their moles, I thought I better look into it. I was tired of turning people down and not tapping into that “money animal”.   After a lot of research on moles, I purchased a mole trap. I set it in my horse pasture and then moved approximately15 feet away to set another one. While I was setting the second trap,  I heard the first one go off.  At first I wasn’t sure what the sound was. I looked over and saw the trap was tripped. I thought to myself, “No way I caught one that fast!”.  I went over there and sure enough I had a mole. Now that was very rare and that almost never happens. I was hooked immediately.

    Moles do have fur but they are not considered a fur bearing animal with the Indiana Dept of Natural Resources. You do not need any type of permit or license to trap moles and there is no season or bag limit on moles in Indiana. (Check your state for restrictions.)

    I practiced for a while catching moles. When I was able to consistently catch moles fairly fast, I then added them to my business. Moles have become approx. 70 % of my nuisance business today.  I am really glad I looked into mole trapping.

    The nice thing is since no permit is required, anyone can trap them year round. It gives the fur trapper something to do in the summer time. It’s nice to be trapping in 80 degree weather and wearing shorts and t-shirt for a change of pace.

    I teach several trapper education classes each year. I always tell my students about moles. I even tell the youngsters that they can make a lot of money after school catching moles. I tell them that everything they need can fit in a 5 gallon bucket and they can carry it on their bicycle. Their eyes light up and get big when they realize what kind of money we are talking about. Dad even starts to perk up when we talk about making money! People don’t realize how easy moles are to catch and people will pay decent money to get rid of them. Moles are definitely the “untapped fur”.

    Moles are solitary animals and they don’t want anyone else around. In the spring, male and female tunnels will overlap. When he is done breeding, he leaves. When the babies are big enough, mom kicks them out. They want to be by themselves. You can catch more than 1 mole in the spring in the same area due to breeding season, but for the most part they are alone. It is usually 1 mole per quarter of an acre. If you have damage in your front yard and damage in your back yard then you might have 2 moles. If the damage connects by a tunnel, it is a good possibility that it is just 1 mole. I have a lot of customers tell me that they have several moles when they actually only have 1 mole. I tell the customer that I charge per mole and I wish they did have several but they actually only have 1. I give my customers 30 days after the job is finished to see if all the moles are gone. I tell them that if they do have more, they will know it in probably 3 days or less. They won’t have to wait long because the mole will be doing a lot of damage. I then come back out but I don’t charge them another service charge, I just charge them the price for the 2nd mole.

    In central Indiana where I am located we have the Eastern mole and the Star Nose mole for the most part. There are other kinds of moles out there. Moles don’t hibernate. They go below the frost line in the winter. Approx. 80 % of their diet is earthworms, 19 % of their diet is grubs, and 1 % ants. People think that if they get rid of the grubs, they will get rid of the moles. That is false. You don’t want grubs so if you are going to spend money on grub control, I would at least use the ammonia based grub control. It doesn’t matter if it is the liquid based or granular. It won’t stop them permanently but it will slow them down. If you picture a cake, the cake part is worms and the icing is grubs. The moles would rather eat the grubs but if they can’t find them they will just go deeper and eat the worms. There is nothing on the market to get rid of worms and you don’t want to get rid of them anyway. Grubs are right underneath the surface and moles are pushing the sod up to get to them. That is why you have tunnels in your yard. The moles are feeding on or looking for grubs. If there are no grubs, the moles go deeper. They have to do something with the dirt so they push it straight up. That is why there are mounds of dirt in our yard. Some people have both tunnels and mounds. I found that it is easier to catch them in the tunnels instead of when there is only mounds of dirt.

    Some people say moles don’t have eyes and some say they do.  Moles DO have eyes but they are covered with fur. They have no external ears. They average 7 inches long and weigh approx. 4 ounces. They have large, broad, front feet good for digging. Moles eat 70 % – 100 % of their body weight each day. Moles have 3-5 young per year and they are born mainly March – early April.

    Have you ever noticed that in the summer time and after a heavy down pour, there are a lot of earthworms up on the surface or laying on the black top especially at night? We used to go out and pick up the worms for fishing. The roads would be covered with big night crawlers at night after a real big rain. The worms are coming up to the surface and the moles follow them. My phone rings off the hook the next day with people calling about mole damage after a really big rain.  When it is hot out in the summer, usually June, July, and August the moles will be found under a big shade tree, not out in the middle of the yard. There are no worms in the middle of the yard right under the surface. The dirt is extremely dry and gray looking. The dirt is like powder. The dirt under shade trees is dark black and moist, good for worms.

    When you are trapping moles, you want to look for the main tunnel and set it. Don’t set the feeder tunnels. The feeder tunnels will be a lot shorter and usually very curvy. The main tunnel will be almost straight and long. Moles are back and forth in their tunnels all the time. Their tunnels are clear of obstructions. The main tunnel will be like a major road in a city and the feeder tunnels will be like side streets. The main tunnel will more than likely connect a damaged area (feeding area)  with another damaged area.

    There are several types of traps out there to use. I’ve tried most of them. After several months of testing numerous types of traps, I only use one type of trap now. The type I use is a scissor type of trap and it is made by Victor. It is called the “out of sight” trap. It cost approx. $ 10.00 each and can be found at most hardware or agricultural stores.  This is just personal preference and I do not receive any compensation for recommending this type of trap. I just like it the best and it works for me. Use whatever trap works for you but set the main tunnels. I use several of these traps and I purchase them by the case. I don’t do anything to them. I use them the way they are right out of the box. They will rust up some but it will not hurt the trap. I do stick an orange flag next to the trap so the customer doesn’t hit it with the mower. Some customers still hit them with the mower and I have to bill them for another trap.

    I would not waste my time and money on the over the counter gimmicks. I’ve heard it all like vibrating windmills, blood, gas, hair, Juicy Fruit gum, poison peanuts or worms, etc. Most of my customers have tried this stuff and it doesn’t work. They call me after they spent a lot of money on these items and I come in and trap them. I want to trap the mole so I have something to show the customer. If they are not home, I take a picture of the mole with their house in the background and then text or email it to them. I don’t want to show up at a customers’ house, peel the dirt back, throw some poison down in the tunnel and then say “pay me.”  The customer would look at me and think I’m nuts. I like having the mole in my hands to prove I actually did something. I think that is just good business. I treat people how I would want to be treated.

    You want to peel the sod back on the tunnel the width of the trap. Clear all the dirt out and then build an obstruction (like a dam) in the tunnel. If the tunnel is running north and south, then build the wall or dam east and west. Make an obstruction for the mole to hit. Set the trap and put the trigger on top of the wall. Cover the trap back up. When the mole hits the obstruction, he will start to dig and push the dirt up. When he does this, he will set off the trap and it will hit him in the rib cage. There are complete instructions to what I just described on the box. Each trap comes with a pair of setters. The trap is very strong and it is a lot easier to use setters then try to use your bare hands. When you are running numerous traps each day, you will want the setters.

    When I get to a job, I meet with the customer and have them sign a service agreement. After that the customer usually goes indoors. I study the tunnel system in the yard for several minutes. I am looking for the freshest damage. I may stand there for several minutes and wait to see if I can actually see the mole working. When the mole is working, you can see the ground move. When I see him working, I dig him out with a shovel.  50% of the moles I catch, I dig out with a shovel. I wait on them for several minutes if I have to. I do this especially if I am in the next county so I don’t have to drive back over there the next day. State law in Indiana says traps have to be checked every 24 hours for fur bearing animals. I check my moles traps every 24 hours as well.

    Thank you for your time. Like I said before, this is how I do it. There are several ways of trapping moles. Practice and develop your own style and methods. It is very enjoyable and profitable. I hope you will be getting some of the “untapped fur” in the future.

    Deric Beroshok
    921 South Locke
    Kokomo IN 46901
    765-860-7499
    Owner- Wildlife Control Services, LLC
    wildlifecontrolservices.org
    trapperfur@aol.com

     

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