REPLY: Moles and other Geophyte predators

Ernie O'Byrne
Fri, 30 Dec 2005 15:39:10 PST
Well, Dave, I hate to throw cold water on the statement that moles are only
carnivorous, but research has proven otherwise, right here in Oregon. An
excellent book on the subject of moles is: _Of Moles and Men: The Battle for
the Turf_ by Patrick H. Thompson.

I quote from his book: "Moore (1933) reported that 57% or 24 of 42
Townsend's Moles contained plant materials. Further studies of stomach
contents from 200 specimens of this species taken throughout the year in
western Oregon showed that 81% of those animals consumed no less than 200 to
1800 mgs of vegetation, a quantity which could hardly be considered
incidental. The average mole in that sample consumed 7% earthworms and 28%
vegetable matter...."

and later: "Oregon moles also eat varying amounts of vegetable matter
including grass roots, root vegetables, and small grains. - Wick and

and again: "The Townsend's Mole eats tulips, tigridias, bulbous irises,. . .
and these often form substantial portions of its fare. Of 45 stomachs of
this mole analyzed in the laboratory of the Section of Food Habits, Fish and
Wildlife Service, 25 contained vegetable matter varying from a trace to 100
percent. - Silver and Moore."

and under the heading "Do Moles Really Eat Bulbs?":

"What of the most ossified bone of contention concerning the diet of moles?
Why, the palatability of bulbs, of course. Under field conditions, Moore
documented the avidity of moles for tigridias. . . . In a study of
commercial tigridia planting near Smith River CA, Moore found that 600 bulbs
were consumed during a 10-day period. After two [!!! my comment] Townsend's
Moles were trapped in the plots, no further damage to the remaining bulbs
occurred. The two trapped animals contained 100 and 94% bulbs in their

I rest my case. I might add that until I read the book a few years ago, I,
too, believed that moles were exclusively carnivorous and that voles were
using their runs to eat the bulbs. Apparently that is not always the case.

By the way, at our place, we have very sandy soil and the vibrating devices
do not work at all for us; we tried several in different locations and
acually had mole hills within 3' of a device. We do not have gophers because
of wet ground and I do know the characteristics of a mole hole.

Ernie O'Byrne
Northwest Garden Nursery
86813 Central Road
Eugene, ORegon 97402

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of
Sent: Friday, December 30, 2005 9:48 AM
Subject: [pbs] REPLY: Moles and other Geophyte predators

In a message dated 12/30/2005 12:12:56 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:
We had a serious mole problem in our nursery beds which we have almost
with an innovation that was not mentioned in any of the correspondence.  We
came across two varieties of battery powered commercial mole deterrents
work by making sporadic sound impulses which moles find intolerable.  <SNIP>

I wonder if we're talking about the same thing?  Here in the USA, moles
(Talpidae sp.) are carnivores and consume only insect larvae/adults,
annelids and
similar.  They don't eat plant material.  Pocket gophers (Geomyidae sp.), on
the other hand, are notoriously gluttonous diners at the geophyte
and can readily decimate most geophytes, especially those with
cormous/tuberous/rhizomatous storage organs.  Moles don't eat geophytes but
their tunneling
provides easy access to the larder for those animals that do, in particular,


Dave Karnstedt
Cascade Daffodils
Silverton, Oregon  97381
Cool, wet Winters and hot, dry Summers

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