When the English writer Kenneth Grahame told his bedtime stories to his son, Alistair, little did he know that Wind in the Willows would become a children's classic, nor the sudden and endearing passion people would develop for the humble and shy mole.
I doubt that the avid gardeners amongst you would agree, for their destructive behaviour throughout the vegetables and flower beds can be frustrating. But there is something quite endearing about these miners of the earth.
Walking the dikes, you will often see the distinctive pile of earth dotted about the sides of the paths and peeking up between the blueberry bushes.
Moles have no boundaries and anywhere there is good soil you will find this little creature. The tunnels, which he spends his life digging, are in fact giant worm traps where the mole sits in wait for a worm to fall through.
Then he scurries along and bites it, filling it with saliva - which contains a toxin - to paralyze the worm. He then can devour it or take it to his "pantry," where he will store the still live worm for later.
Some of these pantries have been found to contain hundreds of worms.
There are two kinds of moles here in Canada, the European mole and the star-nosed mole.
The latter animal lives back east and is not seen here in British Columbia.
Both moles have the unique ability to tolerate high levels of carbon dioxide, because of an unusual protein in their blood called hemoglobin - which enables them to reuse oxygen inhaled above ground - so they can survive in very low oxygen environments.
The mole has polydactyl forepaws but weak back legs.
His huge front paws, which he uses for digging, are multi-jointed and shaped like large spoons with an extra thumb and a long curved bone at the top to help with the scooping action when digging.
But the poor mole is almost blind, with such small eyes and ears he relies on his sensitive whiskers and nose to keep safe.
Apart from eating worms, the mole is partial to beetles, earwigs, and other small critters found in the earth around him. But he, in turn, is also food for other animals.
At one time during the 1930s there was a fashion for moleskin coats and this cost the lives of thousands of the animals.
As they were considered pests, a small bounty was given when they were harvested.
Thankfully this craze didn't last too long, as it took many moleskins to make a coat and a great deal of work was required for one garment.
So don't be too cross with the little mole when he leaves you a pile of earth on your lawn, just use the very fine soil to pot up your seedlings. Remember the better the earth the more he will come to visit.
Sorry, you can't win!
- Liz Hancock is a member of the Alouette River Management Society. She is also a writer, artist, environmentalist, and teacher of self-sustainable living.
Discover the joys of flora and fauna in our rural areas. Liz welcomes questions at email@example.com
@ Copyright 2013