Putting the mole traps to the test

Tiffany Daneff / 04 March 2016

After trying and failing with alternative methods to control their burrowing, Tiffany Daneff is forced to put some mole traps to the test at the Sheep Garden.

A few blogs back I was moaning about the mole hills in the lawn. No amount of deterrence had made a blind bit of difference – not even depositing cat droppings in the tunnel (which sounds mean, but shows you how bad things had got). Even the dog had failed to send the moles packing after several days of determined digging.

Related: a problem with moles in the garden.

In short things had got to such a pitch with new eruptions daily that, as a last resort, I had gone and ordered a mole trap. This wasn’t one of those old school metal clamps that looks like it will have your finger off but a modern cleverly designed plastic trap with a clear red plunger that inspired confidence.

Once I unpacked the mole trap I immediately wished I’d gone and ordered the special prodder they recommend on the Beagle website. This has a bulbous end that helps with probing the lawn to identify the tunnels. The idea is to set the trap in a tunnel, not in a hill. I had thought, poo poo with that I can just use a piece of straightened coat hanger to prod the grass. But that was no use at all. I found it impossible to tell whether the end had broken into a tunnel or not.

Giving up on that I went back to consider the trap itself. After reading the instructions I cautiously pressed the red plunger that sets the trap. This took some force but nothing overly demanding. All very clear and simple, thank goodness. With the plunger depressed two ridged metal bars appear at the base of the trap. When triggered these bars clamped shut with a terrifying force.

So the trap was ready to go but without being able to identify a tunnel I could do nothing. So I rang a friend who reckons he’s got a bit of a knack with catching moles. And then I sighed with relief.

Ted has a pair of metal traps which he leaves outdoors for a couple of weeks before use so that they don’t smell of humans. He also brought a couple of black plastic buckets with him.

“Don’t you need a prodder, then?” I asked. But Ted was well versed. He showed me how to feel the grass, pressing down on the lawn with his hand. Immediately it was possible to see where the ground gave slightly.

“That’s the tunnel,” said Ted.

Easy when you know how.

He cut a neat hole above the tunnel, set the trap, sank it down, leaving the two handles above ground and carefully filled in the gaps with soil so that no light shone down to the tunnel below. Just to make sure he inverted a black bucket over the top and secured it with a brick. He then repeated the whole procedure in another tunnel.

The next morning I went to investigate, half hoping not to find anything.

Here’s what I found. One trap had been triggered and I am very sorry to say that there was one dead mole inside. On the upside there has been no further activity. No more hills, no nothing for a month.

So, what’s the verdict?

On the downside I am very sorry about the mole.

On the upside there are hundreds more in the fields all around us and I have to say I am hugely relieved to have got rid of it. It had already dug more than 10 hills and who knows how many tunnels, several in the flower beds. I’d given it my best shot with deterrence and honestly I don’t know what more I could have done other than let it take over the garden.

Would I do it again if needed? Yes. And this time I would use the Beagle.

Find out more at Beagleproducts.com

They also produce a fascinating booklet with all you could wish to know about moles. Well worth reading.

Update: Otter Farm

Back in July last year I wrote about Otter farm where writer and grower Mark Diacono has been experimenting with growing the unusual and the exotic. He’s always been out there willing to try eating fuchsia buds and growing pecans so that the rest of us can look and learn. 

Now Mark is trying, via Crowd Funder, to raise money to put up a building where he can run cooking and growing courses and turn his produce into wine and spirits and all sorts of other good things. You wont give something for nothing and you don’t need to spend a lot. Most pledges will buy you a name on a supporters’ wall as well as a home grown bottle or a signed copy of one of his new books. Fancy helping? Here’s where to go: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/otter-farm

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