Is a mole considered a rodent?
Oftentimes, people categorize moles with rodents due to the similarities between them in terms of physical features. Although such characteristics aren’t entirely identical, moles still look like some form of rodents.
Plus, they’re destructive in the sense that they dig a maze of tunnels that can be unsightly.
What Are Rodents?
If you’re confused about where to place or classify these diggers, you aren’t alone. A lot of people also ask questions on whether moles can be considered rodents or not.
This article will be providing answers by making first defining what rodents are and seeing if moles possess such traits.
First, our discussion will be kick-started by looking at what rodents are. This provides us with a basis for comparison, thus enabling us to better understand where to place moles.
Rodents are mammals that belong to the order Rodentia with key characteristics that include the possession of a pair of continuously growing incisors.
These are located at both the upper and lower parts of their jaws. That isn’t the only defining characteristic of rodents as such mammals are known to have several other similar characteristics.
These include a complex jaw musculature, the absence of canine teeth as well as the presence of a penis bone.
What more? Rodents are identified by the large gap or diastema found behind the incisors. Their incisors have no enamel behind the tooth. This creates a situation where it wears down with use.
Examples of Rodents
With the defining characteristics of rodents given, what mammals easily fit into this category?
There are lots of them that include hamsters, squirrels, chinchillas, coypu, rat, beaver, mus, agouti, gopher, gerbils, lowland paca, murids, arivicolinae, degu, lemming, and guinea pigs.
Others include beavers, dormouse, blesmol, cane rats, cavies, hystricomorph, new world porcupines, paca, muroids, pedetes, dasyproctidae, gundi, hystrix, megapedetes, red-crested tree-cat, and kangaroo rat.
The list goes on and on. This section has been necessary to help you understand where moles belong.
Are Moles Rodents?
Moles aren’t rodents.
These mammals are known as insectivores. This says a lot about the nature of their diet. Insectivores basically feed on worms, insects, and other invertebrates.
Like rodents, moles are excellent burrowers.
However, the difference is that their (mole) activity is restricted to the soil. This is unlike rodents that burrow through walls in homes and cause lots of damage.
This isn’t to say that moles don’t cause damage. They do.
Contrary to popular belief that moles burrow tunnels to get to plant roots and feed on them, these creatures actually feed on worms. Earthworms are their favorite diet.
Also, insect larvae are another mole favorite.
Moles love to feed on earthworms to the extent that the volume of these worms consumed daily almost equals their body weight.
This is why moles crisscross your yard creating a maze of tunnels that could destroy your lawns and deface your yard.
Do Moles Have Any Benefits Compared to Rodents?
We’ve made it clear that moles cause a different kind of damage when compared to rodents. However, do these creatures have any benefits at all? It depends on what you consider a benefit.
Generally speaking, moles play a key role in soil management.
Such benefits are seen in the control of unwanted insects and grubs. Their tunneling activity also aerates the soil, plus, its sods are dried out in addition to enhancing the penetration of organic matter deeper into the soil.
Compared to moles, rodents are infamous for a wide range of property damage. In order of ranking as regards the most destructive rodents, rats will easily come out tops.
This is why they’re despised a lot by homeowners.
So, does it mean that rodents have no positive sides at all? Surprisingly they do! Their presence serves a key role or purpose in the ecosystem.
Apart from being part of the predatory ecosystem, rodents are opportunistic eaters and scavengers.
How Do Moles Fare Compared to Rodents in Disease Transmission?
Rodents are known to cause all sorts of diseases that are easily transmitted to humans. These range from Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, and also Lassa fever.
Other transmissible diseases include Omsk hemorrhagic fever and leptospirosis.
Other types of diseases spread by rodents include lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), salmonellosis, plague, rat-bite fever, tularemia, and South American Arenaviruses.
Do moles also transmit diseases as their rodent counterparts?
Mole presence poses health risks as they’re known to occasionally transmit rabies. Apart from this transmissible disease, moles mostly carry insect parasites that could prove to be a problem to humans.
Examples of such insect parasites include ticks, tapeworms, and Bartonella.
Ticks are known hosts for a wide range of diseases ranging from Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, powassan virus diseases, and anaplasmosis among others.
Ticks can easily and other insect parasites can be spread to pets and then to humans.
Can Moles be Tolerated?
For any homeowner who notices mole presence or activity around the yard, a critical decision needs to be made.
Here, the benefits derived from mole activity compared to the damage caused need to be weighed. Of course, such damage will take the health risks posed into consideration.
For most homeowners, the tolerance level is almost nonexistent. This is due to damage caused through mole burrowing activity leading to the destruction of turf, and garden areas.
Also, the landscape usually becomes an eyesore, thus making maintenance difficult.
Ordinarily, a single mole or two may be tolerated for a large piece of land. However, the same number of moles may be considered too much for a small area such as a yard.
Under such circumstances, the tolerance level is zero. In other words, such moles will have to go.
In most cases, people will have more tolerance for moles than they would for rodents. Rodents tend to be more destructive and will cause extensive property damage.
Treating a Mole Problem
There you have your answer!
Moles aren’t rodents. They’re insectivores and feed mainly on earthworms and insect larvae in the soil.