25 April 2009

So, what's at the bottom of YOUR compost pile?

I was diligently turning over the giant compost heap I made last October. It doesn't look much like compost yet, to be frank, but it began to look a bit more like soil near the bottom. I started putting some of this compost on a nearby bed (earmarked for corn this year). Then, as I pulled a forkful of compost away, the air was suddenly filled with piercing squeals and a small nest fell away from the bottom of the fork, tumbling these little beasts out onto the ground. They were not at all happy about being disturbed, I can tell you. I wasn't very happy myself, come to that.


I felt instantly terrible - a mole-molester - but also fascinated at seeing these tiny creatures. I ran off to get a couple of trowels so that I could move the moles without making them smell of human (although my hands were fairly comprehensively covered in compost by this time, so that might not have been a big problem). I also got the camera (because otherwise you wouldn't believe me, right?). I carefully lifted the nest (which still had a few moles inside it - you can see it (and a mole's foot) in the bottom right of the photo above) back into the hole it had come out of, then scooped up the four 'loose' moles and returned them to their siblings. They stopped squealing once they were back in the nest.


Then I re-packed some soil around the nest and covered it over with a handy piece of wood. I sincerely hope that the mother mole will come and rescue her brood and take them to a safer spot. Their eyes aren't open yet, but they're about half the size of an adult so I'm guessing that they're nearly two weeks old (based on the Wikipedia information on Star-nosed moles). I hope they make it to adulthood - sorry for disturbing you, little moles.

11 comments:

Russell James said...

You do know that some of these moles may actually ruin the garden, right?

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

We interact with flora and fauna regularly, some has to go .... thats the way life is... ~ bangchik

Amanda said...

In this case, Russell, I'm happy to live and let live. The star-nosed moles eat aquatic insects (which I hope include mosquito larvae!) and slugs and snails. They sound like useful garden allies, to me. The compost heap is close to a pond, so I'm guessing they do most of their feeding there.

Sarah said...

And they look kinda cute! Must admit I won't be too impressed if the mole in the field next door makes it onto our lawn . . .

Amy said...

What a find! They are terribly cute =) I hope they end up being more help then harm to your garden.

Lindab said...

Oh the wee moles! I thought you were going to say you'd found rats. We had a rat in one of our bins and when we disturbed it it ran out and over my daughter's arm with its huge, leathery tail giving her a good whack. I think it's fair to say she 'freaked out'.

I do hope your little moles get relocated safely.

Amanda said...

When I first heard the squealing and saw the little grey bodies I did think they were rats. We once had a rat in our plastic compost bin in Manchester (which ate all my lovely composting worms). It gave a huge squeal as we ejected it from the bin (which my husband thought was me, screaming. I still haven't forgiven him for that!).

ChickenLover said...

We've got a mole in our allotment, it is tunnelling through my seed beds. Very annoying.

Arosebyanyothername said...

I love your molelets - I think you did the right thing returning them to their nest - I would have done the same. Moles are welcome in my garden too, but I don't think we have any.
The photos are great.

Soilman said...

Do moles even have eyes? I was always told that they don't... or are they just an atavism that doesn't work any more?

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Neurologically speaking, star nosed moles are really unique. That star nose is a sensory organ like nothing else in the animal kingdom.