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What are these Critters?

 
Jason Warren
Posts: 26
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Please help.

I have mole, vole, or mouse tunnels through my yard. Even though the garden is close by, they haven't done any noticeable damage to it yet. Most of the tunnels are next to mature bushes and trees. I will see a pile of fresh soil but not a hole, from that pile I can usually make out tunnels that are close to the surface running in both directions.

My cats have been great in the past catching mice and what I think is a shrew (pointed nose), but they haven't caught anything this summer. I've tried poison peanuts and smoke bombing the newest looking tunnel locations. When I find some new soil dug up, I will dig into the tunnel and I'll either stick some poison peanuts in the tunnel or one of those poison smoke sticks, put a board across the tunnel and cover it with dirt so I don't collapse it. The damage to the yard and the amount of runs seem to have slowly increased all summer.

What are these things and how do I combat them, I have yet to catch a glimpse.

Also, they don't seem to be killing the grass so I'm thinking they might be searching for bugs or worms?

Thank you,
Jason - West Virginia hills.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3661
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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What I have are Voles.
You must remember that here at permies we try not to use the chemicals.
Here is some info on Voles that might help.

http://voles.com/How_to_get_rid_of_Voles.htm
 
Jason Warren
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Thank you Miles.

Doing some reading they might also be Moles. I purchased some spring traps to set along the runs to see what happens. I have no tree, fruit, or garden damage which leads me to the mole conclusion which eat mostly grubs and worms.

I try not to use poison. I have a herd of ducks that police my place and an abundance of snakes, frogs, pray mantises, and spiders living in my yard. I didn't see any of these the first few years I moved here.

Jason
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3661
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
134
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Ya if you can trap one then you will know for sure what is in those holes.
Sounds like you are building lots of diversity over time.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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Moles are good guys - they eat grubs that would otherwise eat the roots out from under your plants. Just flatten down the tunnels again when they're done with them. The grass over the tunnels may die but it's just temporary until the tunnel gets flattened again. Someone said moles are poisonous and most animals won't eat them.

Voles on the other hand are a real nuisance - they'll overpopulate under the mulch in your garden, eat all your root crops then start eating the green beans, tomatoes, etc. I had them so bad they'd run over my feet when I went out to harvest my half-eaten food.
 
Jason Warren
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I never heard that moles were good guys. don't they eat all the worms as well? I used to have grubs before I got my muscovies, but now my ducks are great at aerating the yard as they go about their grub business. My yard looks great and heathly and mole tunnels aren't that bad, but then again, I don't want them or it (as they like to be alone) eat up all the worms. Is the tunnels and aeration that much of a benefit to let this guy be?
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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Location: zone 6b
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They eat worms but also slugs, snails, centipedes, earwigs, and other undesirables (in addition to grubs). A healthy organic sod should have many earthworms to spare. My chickens ate earthworms galore and it never hurt the population. However, the grubs the moles eat will never grow into Japanese beetles, which means less beetle damage for your crops. I'd love to have some moles here!
 
mick mclaughlin
Posts: 200
Location: Augusta,Ks
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You would probably get over wanting moles, if ya had em! Lol! Maybe not, but probably. They are a carnivore, only eating subterrianian meat, but they do make a mess of a yard or a garden. Yes they eat grubs, but earthworms are their prefferd food, and thats why moles love good soil!

The spring traps are the most readily available, and almost worthless. Order some trapline mole traps, the best i have seen. Put them in the long straight runs, and stake them down, so nothing will drag them off.

Use a bunch, and you will get 'em!

We dont have voles here, so i cant help ya there.
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 221
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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Is it maybe night crawlers instead? The neighbor has some in his back yard that leave big disturbed tunnels that are so big you think it has to be rodents of some form. They make the yard bump they are so bad. It turns out the previous owner imported these large earth worms from somewhere for fishing bait. They are about 7 inches long and about 3/16 in in diameter at the largest. The thing that causes me to think you don't have rodents is the fact you don't have holes. These worms their tunnels fall in behind them and when they burrow down instead of along the surface you miss it unless you are really looking for it simply because the hole is so small that you will think it couldn't be the source of this large disturbance. But it is. An indicator is that tunnels on top are are way more common when the top of the ground is wet. The fact that it tapers off as the summer goes on also causes me to think this one is worms rather than rodents. They don't seem to cause any damage other than making the yard bumpy. There again good cats catch voles so it also doesn't sound like a rodent problem. My cats catch more voles than they do mice.
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Does the soil form a mound? If so you might have gophers!
 
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