It's Make Your Nature Count week, and we're back again with a series of posts to celebrate some of the lesser-talked about species we're asking you to tell us about in our survey.
I'm kicking things off with a look at moles.
I've never seen a mole, which perhaps isn't really that surprising seeing as they pretty much live exclusively underground. However, I've certainly seen the familiar and telltale signs that they're somewhere under my feet: molehills.
Quite the gymnast
What I hadn't quite appreciated about moles was just how tough these little creatures are.
They can create around 20 meters of tunnel in a day and move twice their own weight of soil a minute! And while their smooth fur allows them to travel backwards in their tunnels, they can also change direction by doing a forward roll.
In my book they've got the physical strength, flexibility, and agility to rival any human gymnast!
Moles are fiercely territorial and spend most of the time on their own. However, during the breeding season (late February or March) the male extends his tunnel system actively looking for a mate.
To raise her young, the female builds a special chamber and lines it with grass - a sight not often seen. When the young are ready to branch out on their own, they must leave the comfort of their underground home and disperse above ground. This makes them vulnerable to predation, and during this time young moles often become dinner for owls, buzzards and even stoats.
Digging is what they do
It might not make them the most lovable of garden visitors, but the digging talents of moles have been quite a bit of help to English Heritage - digging up treasure from areas where humans have been banned. Not many animals can say that.
If you've got a mole in your garden, please do let us know as part of our survey. You've got until 10 June to tell us.
There are a lot of new molehills in and about Herrington country park [DH4 NE England] and they must be new cos my dogs find them very interesting! good on ya wee moles!! I live on the country park...my second garden...plenty moles here
It's great to hear moles are doing well round your way, speedydoggywog. Thanks for the comment.
We have had moles, slow worms toads and a grass snake at one time or another but haven't seen any of them so far this year. Do I still report them or not?
Yes it would be great if you could report them. It's all important information so that we know which wildlife is using gardens. Pop over to www.rspb.org.uk/naturecount and take part in the survey.
Any questions please let us know.