Moles appear throughout the United States. Various species of these small, native mammals include the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) and the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata). They dig tunnels through the earth in search of shelter and food. While mole presence provides some positive side effects such as significantly lowered insect populations, these animals commonly destroy gardens and lawns. Various factors may contribute to dead moles in the yard.
Moles are attracted to areas that provide food and shelter. As insectivorous animals, moles feed on a variety of bugs including beetles, worms, spiders, slugs, millipedes, ants, fireflies, crickets, wasps, even voles. The more insects that occur in one area, the more likely the presence of moles. Moles commonly seek shelter in grasses and weeds like switchgrass, crabgrass, pokeweed, jimsonweed, common ragweed, milkweed and bluegrass.
Some gardeners and homeowners control mole populations through poison, which take effect over time. If one of your neighbors suffers from a mole infestation and uses poison as a form of control, the animals may ingest such poisons in another yard and wind up dead in your yard. While this explanation may prove valid for a small groups of moles or animals found dead over a short period of time, it proves unlikely that multiple moles over the course of several days or weeks would end up dead in your yard unless you share yard space or property with someone using poison. The likelihood of such an occurrence increases if your yard abuts a golf course, where poisons are commonly used.
Dead moles in your yard may indicate the presence of a population of moles suffering from a disease. Moles suffer from a variety of parasitic diseases and other illnesses that may spread quickly through mole populations, killing several animals. Little literature exists regarding disease in mole communities. If you fear disease as the cause of dead moles in your yard, contact a local university extension or small animal veterinarian for assistance. Such diseases may spread to pets.
The Cat Factor
Despite their long-standing domesticity, cats are predatory animals. A natural instinct for cats entails hunting and killing small animals such as mice, rats, rabbits and moles and leaving the corpses outside of their home, on a step, sidewalk, patio, lawn, garden or other such area. This habit arises from the natural behavior of killing prey and bringing it back to the den for kittens. Domestic and stray cats alike exhibit this behavior. If you don't have a cat, a stray living in or around your yard may be killing moles and leaving them in the yard. A number of other predators, including raccoons, owls, snakes, weasels, hawks and foxes, kill moles, although these animals usually eat the corpses.
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Eastern Mole
- Michigan State University Extension; Moles in the Lawn; Kevin Frank; 2011
- “Mammals of the Eastern United States”; John O. Whitaker, et al.; 1998
- University of Missouri Extension; Controlling Nuisance Moles; Robert A. Pierce; 2002
- Healthy Pet: Living With Your Cat