Step-by-Step Guide to Setting No Kill Traps and Relocating Moles
You don’t want to kill them.
In fact, you find them kind of cute.
But your yard …
While they’re not here to eat your plants, moles are notorious for adding their own personal touches to your landscape. These busy little critters can tunnel up to 15 feet per hour. Upending your soil and adding lines, craters, and molehills in the process.
Thankfully, there’s a win-win for both you and the moles. There are ways to get rid of them that don’t involve harming them. They’ll continue burrowing and making mounds far away from your garden — after you’ve caught and relocated them.
New to this type of activity?
No problem. We’ll walk you through the process, ensuring you stay safe and the moles live to tell the tale.
What’s Going On Underground
Moles spend almost all their time underground. This sounds like quite a clandestine feat, except for the evidence their underground activity leaves on the surface — your yard.
Their intricate tunnel system consists of both temporary and permanent tunnels. The temporary ones are usually right under the surface, and their permanent ones run deeper.
How to Tell if Your Yard Has Moles
If you see a raised bit of ground that continues along in a tunnel fashion – usually somewhere in or around trees — it’s a sign that you have moles.
Unlike mice, rabbits, and other common pests, moles are loners. There are usually less than three to five moles per acre. This means what might appear to indicate a significant mole problem is usually just a few hardworking moles.
Moles dig intricate tunnel systems with many stems of the tunnel branching off — some ending in a little chamberlike room.
These little spaces are where moles sleep, give birth, and according to livescience.com:
“Moles also have kitchens in tunnel chambers. They eat mostly earthworms, and keep them alive and immobile by biting their heads, and then store them in the chamber.”
Moles tend to thrive in areas where the soil is low in acidity and easy for them to tunnel around in. They don’t like hard-packed soil or ground that’s too sandy.
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Different Kinds of Mole Traps
Like rodent control, most of the traps currently available on the market kill moles.
With somewhat sadistic names like scissor trap, choker loop, cinch, harpoon, and victor plunger, it’s no secret how those traps kill moles. Then there are the poisons and other rodent repellents, which cause pain and suffering.
Why Should You Choose a No-Kill Mole Trap?
It’s unfortunate that so many people choose this route, as these little critters are a necessary and helpful part of the ecosystem. They eat larvae from beetles that are harmful to trees. They aerate the ground. Best of all, they have no intention of ever coming into your home, making themselves comfortable, and eating all your snacks.
Thankfully, successful mole control does not mean these little buddies have to meet their demise. There are many inexpensive humane traps on the market you can use when trapping moles. Traps that allow you to transport and release them elsewhere.
How No-Kill Mole Traps Work
The easiest way to trap the moles is to meet them where they are — underground. The traps featured here are all designed to catch the moles underground as they move along one of their tunnels.
After you’ve located an active tunnel (more on that later), the trick is to dig a small hole into the tunnel, big enough to fit the trap inside. Cover the trap with loose soil, ensuring no sunlight seeps through. You don’t want the soil to be too tightly packed because you’ll need to check the trap frequently.
As the moles make their way down the tunnel, they’ll pass through the trap.
5 Humane No-Kill Mole Trap Options
Here are a few of the best mole trap options (one also works as a gopher trap) that are weather-resistant, easy to set, and you can reuse them as often as you need.
1. Outdoor Mole Trap by You Think
This mole trap is inexpensive and somewhat roomy. It works for trapping multiple types of small rodents.
A downside is that due to its size and shape, it may be harder to camouflage. Getting it into a tunnel without causing too much soil disruption could also prove challenging.
2. Reusable No Kill Trap by Hodri
Similar to the last, this reusable mole trap available on Amazon has a curved roof, making it easier to tuck soil around. Though if any dirt should fall after you’ve set it, it may interfere with the spring mechanism that closes the door.
3. Catch & Release Trap by Relax days
This catch-and-release trap is a little pricier than the other options but is specifically intended for moles. Its cylinder shape makes it easy to fit snugly into an existing tunnel.
It has two little windows, so you can peek in regularly to see if you’ve caught a mole.
4. Dead End Gopher/Mole Trap by Gonzo
You can also use this no-kill mole trap option as a gopher trap.
It’s tube-shaped, but part of the top is solid plastic. Because of this, you don’t have to submerge it entirely underground. The plastic shield at the top will block sunlight from peeking through after you’ve buried the rest of it along the line of the tunnel.
5. DIY No-Kill Mole Trap
Finally, there’s the DIY bucket method. All you need is a trowel, something to cover the top, and a two to five gallon bucket.
This technique involves digging a hole through an active mole tunnel. The hole has to be big enough to put a bucket underneath (if you have a five-gallon bucket, you’ll want to use a shovel instead of a trowel).
You’re trying to catch the mole in the bucket as they make their way along the tunnel. So, the hole you dig must be big enough to bury the bucket, ensuring its sides are at the same level as the tunnel’s floor.
Setting Your DIY Mole Trap:
- Dig the hole and stick the bucket inside.
- Pack the soil around the bucket and place something over the top of the hole you dug, such as a piece of wood, sod, or something else that won’t alert the mole.
- Lift whatever you use to cover the top frequently to see if you’ve caught a mole.
- Optional: Adding worms and something soft for them to land on is also a nice gesture.
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Trap Setting Tips
You want to make sure you’re setting the traps in tunnels that are still in use.
Locate an Active Tunnel
So, how do you know which are the active tunnels?
One way is to collapse a few spots along different tunnel systems and mark where you collapsed them. The next day or so, go outside and check. If any have been rebuilt, you know it’s a live tunnel.
Another way to tell is to dig into the tunnel from the top and examine the sides and floor. If they’re smooth, it indicates that it’s still in use.
Mask Human Scents
Before you handle the trap, rub your hands in the dirt. You want to do your best to mask any human scent. In fact, rub dirt around the trap as well, and never wash it with dish soap. The sudsy aroma will be a mole repellant.
Bait the trap with a worm. Some recommend cutting the worm in half, but we don’t blame you if you’re not up for that.
Mimic the Path of the Tunnel
The following is how to set most of the trap options listed above. However, depending on which one you choose to get, make sure to follow the instructions.
Bury your trap horizontally to mimic the tunnel’s path, and cover the top with a light layer of soil.
Check Your Trap(s) Often
Now that you’ve set the trap, one of the most important things to do is check it frequently. You don’t want to cause undue suffering and harm by unintentionally starving the mole, forgetting to check the trap, and denying it food and water.
Another significant consideration is the temperature. Moles have a high metabolic rate and become cold quickly. Thus, being trapped in a tube for an extended period instead of snuggling into a well-insulated nest to ward off the cold could ultimately kill them.
Moles are most active in spring, summer, and fall.
Females are usually pregnant from April to May, so trapping during that time means you might get a mother before the babies are born. Yet, trapping during that time also poses the risk of trapping mamma. Then you risk leaving her little mole pups to starve if she’s given birth to a litter.
You Caught One, Now What?
Uncover the trap, and remove it from the tunnel.
Carefully release the mole into a bucket with some soil at the bottom, grass, straw or other bedding, a little water, and worms. Keep it in a cool (but not cold!) dark and quiet space.
Where to Relocate
You’ll want to relocate it to a place where it has a chance to survive. Take a look at your yard; note the trees, the soil, and other characteristics. The mole picked it out for a reason; let these observations inform your decision about where you’d like to move it.
Think about shady areas where the soil is moist, with a stream or other signs of water around. (Of course, you want to avoid relocating the mole to residential areas or farmland.)
When to Relocate
You want to transport it to its new home as soon as possible and not cause unnecessary stress by having it trapped in the bucket for an extended time.
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Ideally, before catching a mole, it’s an excellent idea to reach out to any wildlife rehabilitation centers in your area. They probably have some helpful tips and suggestions and may even take the mole off your hands and relocate it for you.
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Deterrents and Repellents
Once you’ve removed the little critters, you want to ensure they don’t come back.
Water Your Yard Less
A simple way to do this is to water your lawn less frequently.
This means that the worms, grubs, and other tasty morsels the moles find so irresistible won’t want to hang out in your space. Without an abundant assortment of its primary food source, the moles won’t want to hang out there either.
If you live somewhere rainy, or the emerald-green lawn that surrounds your house is your pride and joy, here are a couple of other deterrents:
Ultrasonic Solar Powered Mole Repellant
These mole-repelling devices are available online. They are little stakes you stick in the ground, with small solar-powered tops. They emit a low-frequency pulse and cover up to 7,000 feet.
Besides repelling moles, they keep snakes, voles, mice, and other rodents away — talk about pest control!
Some homeowners have had success taking their old coffee grounds and distributing them over the mole holes.
Apparently, not everything is a fan of the smell of coffee, and the moles will scurry off, or so these people claim.
Castor Oil Granules
You can sprinkle castor oil granules around your lawn and dissolve them with water. It doesn’t harm plants, moles, or other little creatures. It simply grosses them out, and they move along.
You can mix and match and try these suggestions all at once or one at a time.
As you can see, there are many ways to handle a mole problem while still caring for the moles.
Looking out for the well-being of others isn’t always easy or convenient. For this reason, many people choose to exterminate household pests instead.
We hope you find these tips helpful and urge you to please take a moment to appreciate the kindness you possess. Made apparent by your efforts in going out of your way to keep these sweet little creatures alive.