Cornwall

Cornwall mole catchers 'busier than ever due to cold'

Mole catchers in Cornwall are busier than ever after extreme weather conditions this winter led to a steep rise in mole hills, it has been claimed.

The mounds of earth have been popping up in places like roundabouts, golf courses and town centre estates.

Mole catcher Paul Diamond said the number of moles had also risen since the ban on the use of strychnine.

Until 2006 the chemical was commonly used as a means of killing moles.

Pest controllers claim there could now be as many as 40 million moles in the UK.

Mr Diamond said: "It's getting progressively worse. When we get a cold snap the moles will go manic as their food requirements go through the roof, so they need to create more tunnels.

"When we have damp weather the moles tunnel away from damp areas in their tunnel."

Mr Diamond said he and his colleagues were being kept busy by the four-inch long mammals.

"I have had more inquiries this winter than in the past and they're coming from a wider area as well.

"I'm getting some in from small towns, which is unusual as the gardens are completely surrounded.

"You wonder how they can get to these areas. They must be running across the roads."

It is likely to get worse over the next few week, Mr Diamond believes.

The mating season is about to start, which means a lot of travelling around for the amorous moles and headaches for gardeners.

The creatures are very territorial and will not tolerate another one near them unless it is the mating season.

When a mole finds a female they can often end up fighting, but if he is accepted mating will occur.

Just a few hours later the male returns to his solitary life.

Image caption Moles can dig through 13lb of soil in just 20 minutes

Steve Hussey, from the South West region's wildlife trust, said: "Moles are shift workers. They do four hours on and four hours off.

"They need to consume a lot of worms and insects to keep themselves alive. Their tunnels are actually traps for their food."

A field of hills can be the work of just one mole.

Mole hills are the result of the mammal's constant digging. They can dig through about 13lb (5.9KG) of soil every 20 minutes.

They are famous for their poor eyesight, relying on hearing, scent and touch to find their way around and locate food.

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