Well, okay, I didn’t actually see a mole, but the fresh mounds of earth were pretty compelling evidence. On the few occasions I have actually seen the mammal I’ve always been struck by its fish-out-of-water appearance and the strict practicality of its build. Eyes and ears seem virtually non-existent in a face dominated by a powerful nose, and the huge front claws (with extra thumbs) are adapted for some serious earth-moving. Yes, it is a bit irritating when molehills pop up in your lawn, but moles have positive effects on a garden, aerating the soil and eating slugs and other invertebrates that eat plants (it’s a myth that moles eat plant roots). I had to smile when my Dad stuck a windmill in a molehill on his lawn, having heard the vibrations are a humane way to deter moles, only to watch it shake and then fall as a mole carried on regardless. Centuries ago they were known as “Moldwarps” or “Mouldywarps”, names that derive from Germanic and Scandanavian words meaning “dirt tosser”. Males are called boars, females sows, and the collective noun is a “labour”. They are exceptionally good at processing oxygen, and can even re-use exhaled air.
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