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First ever footage of a mole in its hole

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Paul Deane Paul Deane | 19:03 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2012

We are proud to announce a TV first on our opening programme this year...actual real life, underground footage of our humble common mole!

Just to rewind slightly, it all started over 40 years ago, when Peter Stafford took this impressive photo of a mole and its young. It won him the 'Wildlife Cameraman of the Year 1967', and remains the only known picture of a mole nest and its young.

Peter Stafford mole nest

40 years on, still the only known photo of a mole's nest

You know how much we all like a challenge here, so Springwatch cameraman Sam Corfield teamed up with Peter to rig a mole's home with infrared cameras. Sounds simple, but given that their tunnels have no surface entrance or exit holes, finding them was a challenging task. But the pay-off was immense.

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It's evident that these guys are incredible diggers - they're built to be professionals at this and have evolved a modified wrist bone, almost like a 6th finger. This x-ray that Peter took clearly shows this.

Mole high resolution

Click on the image to get a high resolution version to spruce up your computer's desktop

So, next time you see those telltale mounds of earth in your garden, take a moment to admire these fantastic mammals.


  • Comment number 1.

    Do moles have eyes? I love the pictures of the babies they're soooo cute!

  • Comment number 2.

    Looking forward to it!

  • Comment number 3.

    Two weeks ago my mother-in-law had a duck nesting on 12 eggs, outside her front door. She checked the eggs one night, and the following morning every egg had been taken. There were no signs of disruption or debris from the eggs. There is a fox run nearby. Would the fox have carried away all 12 eggs without leaving a trace?

  • Comment number 4.

    I have never seen a mole before and this morning I found a dead one, courtesy of our cat. If they don't ever leave their holes, how on earth did he catch it?

  • Comment number 5.

    Wow fabulous little creatures...one night in my garden I felt the earth move beneath my feet...and up popped a mole! it was a beautiful sight!!

  • Comment number 6.

    My cat brought in a Live Mole a few years ago and it was running around the Living room floor. If moles never come above ground, how on earth did she catch it?

    I hope you can answer the question! :)

  • Comment number 7.

    I have a question about peacocks and need some help! A wild peacock flew into our castle grounds a few months ago and has settled with us. I arrived home tonight though to find him with one of the pheasant chicks in his mouth!! I am worried incase he has eaten it!! as we have hens that eat mice etc and I dont know what to expect from the peacock... I hoped you could give us some advice thanks...Mary B

  • Comment number 8.

    I was told that if mole hills are in a straight line then they are made by a male but if they are all over the place it is a female under the ground.
    Is there any truth in this?

  • Comment number 9.

    Just seen the marvelous footage of the mole in its natural habitat. They must have a great tolerance to high CO2 levels if their tunnels have no access to the outside. I guess this tolerance is much higher than e.g. rabbits, who spend a long time in burrows?

  • Comment number 10.

    Loving martins new hair cut.

  • Comment number 11.

    I work on an organic farm in Totnes and in the last two weeks we have found two dead moles in the fields where there is no livestock, they have no damage on them at all. what do you think is killing them?

  • Comment number 12.

    Fantastic first show. Chris, Michaela and Martin work brilliantly together. Glad you're letting Chris do plenty of the scientific details - it adds such a lot, and it's great to see him getting enthusiastic! (Grin).
    Would love to see more on the moles (that bit was fab) particularly how they fit into ecosystems - farmers hate them but I'm sure they must have a part to play in the ecosystem and maybe their tunnelling is actually good for the soil?? Would love to know more.
    Keep up the great work!

  • Comment number 13.

    Fascinating footage of the mole. We found a dead headless one in our garden and are very curious as to what creature could have done that?

  • Comment number 14.

    My young sons fished a mole out of the Llangollen Canal when we were on holiday. The poor thing was exhausted and was still swimming in our hands. We popped it into a nearby hedgerow to recover. I dont know if it survived, but we hope so.

  • Comment number 15.

    Dear Chris. We are on Cakewatch and that was not a vanilla slice, but a Bakewell slice.

  • Comment number 16.

    About 30 years ago when I was 8 years old we had a mole living in my garden, my parents were quite keen to get rid of it as it was making molehills all over the lawn. One afternoon my dad notice some earth rising up and there was the mole making a new hill! My dad grabbed his garden spade and fork and somehow managed to block the mole's path and dig it up alive. We put it in a bucket with some earth which it obviously tried to burrow into; I remember being surprised at how small it was and that the poor little thing seemed to be shaking with terror. We took it over the road and released it in the fields opposite our house, I picked it up out of the bucket and put it on the grass and it ran off with the acceleration of a 100m sprinter! Seeing the piece on Springwatch today has made me think I must be one of very few people ever to have handled a live mole!

  • Comment number 17.

    Have you ever heard a mole? About 2 years ago my cat brought in a live mole which shrieked so loudly - like a mouse multiplied tenfold!! It escaped and hid under the piano. Have you ever tried to rescue a mole from under a piano?? Eventually I managed to extricate the shrieking animal and return it unharmed to the field at the back of the house.

  • Comment number 18.

    I have lots of molehills, just like the field you filmed in, but on Dartmoor. How many moles are there (approx) in such an area, and do they operate as a group, like rabbits or as lone individuals?

  • Comment number 19.

    How come on the graph tonight that showed the feeding pattern of the nuthatchers there was a gap in Sunday..?

  • Comment number 20.

    why do bumble bees fight to the dead ? this happened in front of me yesterday in my garden
    I have a nest in my compost heap bin so why do the do it as it seems very strange

  • Comment number 21.

    I was very interested to see the footage about moles and it reminded me that I've been trying to find out something for years. I was once told that male moles make their hills in straight lines and female moles make their hills rather randomly - is that true ? I am a bit suspicious about this information.
    Looking forward to hearing the truth.

  • Comment number 22.

    We think our blue tits chicks fledged during the day today as they are no longer in the nesting box, yet their parents came back to the box tonight with food! Can anyone explain what has happened please?

  • Comment number 23.

    Excellent first programme! and I never thought I'd say that! No messing about, giving us information as if it really mattered (which of course, it does!); as ever, superb filming, with the promise of even better to come ( insect world- brilliant!). Please keep up the standard - it was a pain having to record the programme and fast- forward through the rubbish!

  • Comment number 24.

    Mr Peckham......your undoubted genius was brought to question las night....vanilla slice??? it was obviousely a mr kipling cherry bakewell :)

  • Comment number 25.

    Brilliant mole footage. Just curious to know how the cameraman in 1967 got that shot of the nest? Presumably he dug it up? Not recommended these days I would imagine.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hello peeps,
    I have been feeding my garden birds for many years & am usually inundated with Tits,Finches,thrush, sparrows,Robins etc. However a pair of very vocal Magpies have taken up residence in the tree next door & now the small birds won't come into the garden...Please help!!! :(

  • Comment number 27.

    A couple of weeks ago I saw a mature mole on the surface, on the periphery of a local football pitch, where there is much mole activity. It was not near a mole hill and I could not see a hole from which it might have emerged. Any thoughts about why it was there?

  • Comment number 28.

    In May of 2011 I was walking in Millers Dale [in the Peak District] and saw a mole on the path beside the River Wye. My 50 second video of the mole is here ~ http://www.flickr.com/photos/81538501@N00/5693260951/ ...

  • Comment number 29.

    With regard to moles: http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/9682221.More_trappers_needed_to_tackle_mole_menace_in_Cumbria/
    This is a link to a newspaper discussion generally in favour of killing more moles. The suggestion that moles lead to listeriosis and sheep abortion seems like special pleading. Is it really necessary to kill more moles just because of a few heaps of soil on lawns?

  • Comment number 30.

    @ number 28:

    I like your video Charlie, but I'm guessing that that is a Water Vole rather than a Mole. I don't think your subject had a long enough nose to be a Mole, and it was next to a river of course.

  • Comment number 31.

    Glad you like my video Four_Winds. I think we might have to agree to disagree on what you say. The animal I filmed had got large front paws and was also the right colour for a mole. I've seen plenty of water voles (not so many lately) and they were quite different in colour.

    I agree it was strange to see the mole (assuming that's what it was) on the path by the river. How it had got there I don't know.

    Perhaps one or two other people could have a look at the clip and see what they think.

  • Comment number 32.

    Several years ago, in Spring, I was sitting in my garden when I was astonished to see a mole walking down the path in broad daylight. It came to one of our small ponds whereupon, without hesitation, it plopped into the water and swam a perfect breaststroke (those large hands were made for it), emerging on the other side where it disappeared into the vegetation. Needless to say I didn't have time to get my camera. I thought I might be the first person to see a swimming mole but I notice two other contibutors saw moles in or near water.

  • Comment number 33.

    I was once sitting quietly fishing on the River Dove when I became aware of a little rustling sound behind me. I was amazed to see a Mole pop out of the bank and then roll down the bankside almost to me feet! I instinctively made a grab for it to study the sweet little thing, and no sooner had I got my hands on him when he promptly sunk his teeth into my thumb! Then in total shock (and pain!), I dropped the little critter and was amazed to see him burrow frantically into the earth and disappear literally in seconds! Great fun!

  • Comment number 34.

    hi, just to tell you that around 15 years ago i had a family of 10 fox cubs in the back garden. the mother would bring them out at around 5 in the evening to play and laze around the large pear tree. During the day she would come out of the den under the shed and come down the garden to take carrier bags of rubbish from my bin ( the days before wheelie bins). She would carry them quickly up the garden unopened not even looking what was inside! just take pot luck. Sainsburys or Safeway she was never fussy:). With ten to feed i suppose she just took her chances. from Marilyn Davis.

  • Comment number 35.

    i love moles although i have never seen a real live one before, i think once my cat brought one back but it was dead. i wish i could see one! i love spring watch and i watch it every year! :)

  • Comment number 36.

    Moles are brilliant! I think more should be done to make people aware of their presence. I can't say I'm and expert, but I would love to know more as they fasinate me! :D
    Charlie, your video is great, it must have been amazing to see one so close, as most people don't see one at all. Like others here, I've only ever seen one dead.

    FlightSwallow123 :)

  • Comment number 37.

    my husband has worked with moles since he was a lad theres not much he dosnt know about them he has filmed them photographed them all sorts they certainly do come above the ground as he has taken me to watch them eat worms on a wet night in on the grass (such a romantic date that was ha ha) i would think he would help you out in any way if you wished to get a little further knowlage with proof not just hear say all the best dawn

  • Comment number 38.

    It is true that moles do come above ground occasionally. I saw one while cycling, crossing a small road up in the Yorkshire Dales on a late sunny summer afternoon- no doubt that it was a mole rather than a vole.

  • Comment number 39.

    Thank you Flightswallow123 ~ glad you liked the video. I've actually seen moles above ground at least a couple of times other than the one I filmed. They move a lot faster than you would imagine too.

  • Comment number 40.

    charlie wildgoose, that's definitely a mole, fab little critter and great bit of footage - so lucky.

    i did my dissertation on moles and soil but never got to see one, not for want of trying, only a dead one sadly.

    despite all my research i never read anything about males making hills in straight lines etc, tho' that doesn't mean it isn't true.

    great to see moles on springwatch at last!!

  • Comment number 41.

    We have just found a mole running around our garden, what was it doing above ground?

  • Comment number 42.

    How do moles get round a down pour of rain.
    It has rain for days at a time recently

  • Comment number 43.

    Thank you nellystuff ~ I make a point of having a camera with me all the time, just in case.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hi re the Mole could anyone please tell me what is the name of the winter coat of the mole, thank you

  • Comment number 45.

    if moles spend all their time underground why don't they suffocate, and how do they cope when it rains a lot and the ground is water logged

  • Comment number 46.

    When I lived in S. Humberside some 25 years ago my 2 cats used regularly to leave dead moles on the kitchen floor for me to find in the morning, so the moles must have been above ground for the cats to catch them. The cats used to bite the heads off birds and leave live baby rabbits hopping round the kitchen but the moles were just killed, never eaten or otherwise injured. Are the unpalatable to cats?

  • Comment number 47.

    I love the baby moles the are really cute

  • Comment number 48.

    Moles are my very favourite animal, but I've never seen a live one. The Springwatch footage was fantastic - thank you so much.

  • Comment number 49.

    moles have been helping archeaologists in Northumberland at Epiacum roman fort by digging up artefacts where human digging is not allowed! The hand with the bead is mine!


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