European moles are small fossorial mammals that live across most of Europe. Their fur is usually dark grey but can vary depending on location. These moles have small eyes that are hidden behind fur, and their ears are just small ridges in the skin. European moles are well-adapted for their life underground. Their forelegs are short but sturdy equipped with wide claws. Moles use them for digging their tunnels as they help to pull the animal along. Their hind legs are much smaller. Females in this species are typically smaller than males.
European moles are found from Britain and Spain eastwards through much of continental Europe to the rivers Ob and Irtysh in Russia. However, they don't occur in southern Europe. These moles live in habitats where there is deep soil that allows them to dig their tunnels. They prefer meadows, pastures, gardens, and parks. They are rarely found in coniferous forests or habitats with sandy or stony soils. European moles may also spend a lot of time at the sides of drainage lines and streams but do not inhabit flooded soils.
European moles live in an underground tunnel system, which they constantly extend. They spend most of their life underground in their burrows, and only sometimes come outside. These animals use their tunnels for food, collection and storage, and nesting. Interesting that females and males differently construct their burrows. Females tend to build an irregular network. Males build a long, straight tunnel with many branches. European moles are solitary creatures and very territorial. Both males and females mark their territory with the scent. European moles hunt their prey and stay active only at night. They use three methods of foraging. Individuals may dig in the soil, walk and search through the burrow system, or may hunt on the surface.
Little is known about the mating system in European moles. They have a relatively short breeding season, that occurs in March and April, followed by a gestation period of four to five weeks. Most births occur at the end of April or at the beginning of May. The litter size ranges from two to seven pups. Young are born blind and hairless. Females nurse their offspring for four to five weeks and at the end of June, the young usually leave the tunnels. Both males and females become reproductively mature at 1 year of age.
There are no major threats to European moles at present. However, in some areas of their range these moles are persecuted as a pest.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the European mole total population size, but this animal is common and widespread throughout its known range. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Due to their diet, European moles play an important role as predators of insects and worm and may impact their prey communities. They also aerate and turn the soil in their environment due to their extensive tunneling work.