At first glance, when comparing a mole vs shrew, these small rodents seem nearly the same. But when it comes to stopping these rodents from tearing up your yard, you need to know which one you have to effectively eradicate them from your yard.
When it comes to pests, moles and shrews aren't just annoying. They pose a threat to your pets and small children. Today, we discuss the characteristics of a mole vs shrew, why these pests pose an issue, how to identify which type of pest you have and more.
CHARACTERICS OF A MOLE VS SHREW
Moles are most easily identified by their pointed snout and the enlarged front feet that they use for digging. They usually live in underground tunnels and are predatory in nature. They usually eat beetles, earthworms, grubs and other arthropods and animals that live in the soil. You can tell a mole from a vole because a mole's ears sit very close to their head and are covered in fur, making them nearly invisible. Their eyes are also nearly invisible.
A shrew is most easily identified by its front feet which are approximately the same size as their hind feet. Depending on the species, they have many habitats.
They usually find their food by reusing tunnels dug by moles or voles. but sometimes they will slip into your home through cracks in the foundation. They feed on insects, earthworms and slugs. However, unlike moles, a shrew will also eat small animals, seeds and roots. A mole will never eat a plant. They are strictly carnivores.
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MOLE VS SHREW
The ability to distinguish between a mole vs shrew is important because these pests are dangerous. They don't just damage your yard. These small rodents can pose a threat to your outdoor pets and children you let play in the yard. For example, they bite to defend themselves when they feel threatened. They are also very territorial, making them likely to attack an animal in aggression that lives in your yard.
HOW TO GET RID OF MOLES
It's a terrible feeling to spend months dethatching, aerating, watering and overseeding your lawn only to find that it is marred by unsightly mounds and a web of tunnels. To repel moles, make your yard uninviting to them. This starts by eliminating their food source. You can control lawn insects, such as ants, grubs and mole crickets with sprays purchased from your local lawn and garden center.
You should also avoid over-watering your yard to make it inhospitable to moles. Try to make sure your lawn doesn't get over an inch of water per week from both rain and irrigation unless it needs it. If you live in a humid climate with over an inch of rainfall per week, spray your yard with castor oil or a product you can buy at a local home and garden center. You can find such products at stores like Wal-Mart, Lowe's Home Improvement or The Home Depot.
Baits kill moles are extremely effective because they simulate earthworms and grubs, a primary food source for moles. Moles will die within 12 to 24 hours of ingestion underground in their tunnels.
Traps are another great method for getting rid of moles. They're most effective when set in the spring or fall. Place the trap in front of an active runway. You can usually identify this as a straight tunnel or tunnels that follow your yard's perimeters. Poke a hole in the top of the runway with a small probe, half-inch dowel or your index finger. If this runway is repaired in a day or two, it is an active runway and the perfect place for your trap.
HOW TO GET RID OF SHREWS
Controlling the shrew population in your yard is different than keeping moles at bay. Start by removing convenient hiding places that shrews can shelter in from your property. If this is impossible, keep these objects as far from your garden as you can. Such objects include bricks, firewood and logs. You should also get rid of your compost pile. Shrews can take shelter in vegetative garden waste and piles of leaves and other debris.
Maintain Your Yard
Keep your lawn as short as possible. The more frequently you mow, the less likely shrews will find a good place to call home. You should also keep shrubs trimmed back and remove low-hanging tree limbs regularly. Shrews hate open spaces because they can be left vulnerable to predators.
Treat for Insects
Treat your lawn and any gardens you have for pests of the insect variety every month. Regardless of whether you prefer commercial chemicals or natural population control methods, eliminating these bugs takes away shrews' primary food source.
Shrews have an extremely high metabolism, easily eating 60% of their body weight per day. If there aren't enough insects to support them eating every three to four hours, they will leave without you having to trap and kill them.
Eliminate Alternative Food Sources
If you have outdoor pets, feed them inside. If you absolutely cannot have your pets inside, bring their dishes inside as soon as they are done eating. Clean around and beneath bird feeders daily.
This may seem like a lot of work but it's worth it because shrews live in large families and can become very aggressive. If you have horses, store any feed in hard plastic, glass or metal containers. Make sure your outdoor garbage receptacles are covered tightly.
Remove Pooling or Low-Lying Water Sources
Don't over-water your yard. Watering your gardens and lawn is necessary, but overwatering creates a moist environment and makes your yard extremely attractive to shrews. Due to their high metabolic rates, these animals quickly and easily become dehydrated. Moist environments also attract other pests, like mosquitoes, that shrews eat.
Let Your Indoor Pet Patrol the Lawn
Since shrews are territorial, they will attack outdoor pets. However, it's a good idea to let your indoor cat or dog patrol the yard every once in a while. Cats aren't ideal for this because they kill shrews but don't eat them. This is because of the horrendous musk left behind by the dead shrews. Medium-to-large sized dogs can also find and kill shrews.
Shrews can't stand living with creatures outside of their own species. If you don't want to kill the shrews, simply walking your dog around your lawn can be enough to entice them to leave.
Make Lots of Noise
This advice depends on your local noise ordinances. However, if you live in a rural area, crank up a portable radio near where you suspect shrews to be living. Alternatively, you can clap your hands, shout or bang a wooden spoon over an old cooking pot. If you have older kids, when you suspect shrew activity is the perfect time to invite them outside to play with cap guns and other noisy toys.
Treat Your Property With Predator Urine
Shrews are hunted by a number of predators. A surprisingly effective technique is spraying the yard with predator urine. Spray this wherever you suspect shrew activity.
10 MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MOLES AND SHREWS
DIFFERENCE 1: LENGTH
The easiest way to distinguish between a mole vs shrew is looking at the length of the rodent. Moles are five to seven inches in length while shrews are no more than three inches in length. For a clear visual reference, a shrew is around the size of a silver dollar.
DIFFERENCE 2: FUR COLOR
Moles are grey to silver in color. A male mole can sometimes be identified by an orange streak on their bellies. Shrews, on the other hand, can be grey. However, they are usually brown in color.
DIFFERENCE 3: SNOUT
The snout of both the mole and shrew are short. However, a mole has a thick snout, and a shrew has a pointed nose.
DIFFERENCE 4: FUR TEXTURE
Naked mole rats aren't the only type of mole. Most moles found in the United States have soft, velvety fur. Contrastingly, the fur texture of a shrew is coarse and fuzzy in appearance.
DIFFERENCE 5: FRONT FEET
Shrews have proportionate front feet. Moles, on the other hand, have large, naked, webbed front feet. These feet also have a wrist bone to help them dig tunnels underground.
DIFFERENCE 6: HIND FEET
Like the front feet, there is a huge difference between the front feet and hind feet of moles and shrews. The hind feet of shrews are proportionate, just like the front feet. The hind feet of moles are far smaller than their front feet.
DIFFERENCE 7: EYES
The eyes of shrews are small, but clearly visible and beady. The eyes of moles are extremely small and difficult to see.
DIFFERENCE 8: YARD DAMAGE
If you can't catch the pest in question, you can assess the damage done to your yard. If you see large ridges in your yard, you most likely have a mole problem. On the other hand, shrews leave many holes throughout your yard that are approximately an inch wide.
DIFFERENCE 9: FEEDING HABITS
This difference won't help you identify which pest you have in your yard, but it's still worth mentioning. Moles and shrews have different feeding habits. Moles primarily feed by digging their own tunnels undergrounds. Contrastingly, shrews scavenge for their food on the surface of yards. They're capable of digging their own holes. However, when feeding underground, they typically use tunnels dug by other animals to find insects.
DIFFERENCE 10: SIGNS TO LOOK FOR
When looking for a mole, the most obvious sign to look for is a volcano-shaped mound approximately two to three inches above the soil. There may also be trails in the grass that have died but not been chewed that are raised slightly.
Dissimilarly, shrews root through loose leaf litter to find insects. While they use tunnels to find insects for food, they are not usually destructive themselves. They most often find shelter in dens. However, depending on the particular region they're found in, they may live in shallow tunnels beneath logs, paving stones or rocks.
MOLE VS SHREW: THE BOTTOM LINE
Now you know the difference between a mole vs shrew, you can take the proper steps to rid your yard of one of these pests effectively. If you don't want to trap and kill these pests, you can make them leave on their own by making your yard inhospitable to them. This starts by taking away their source of food. Spray your yard to repel insects monthly and don't leave pet food outside. Spray castor oil in your yard to drive away moles and don't keep your yard too moist.
To rid your yard of shrews, keep your grass clipped short, clear your yard of any debris, leaf piles or mounds of vegetation from your garden and make sure there are no low-hanging branches, logs, stones or anything else a shrew can make its home.