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 Martha Pearson., age 12, of Greenville., Ky., for her question:

What do Moles Eat?

Suppose you weigh 100 pounds. If you were a mole, you would. have to Eat 100 pounds of food every day of your life. Of course, a mole weighs just a few ounces. But the food he eats every day is about equal to the weight of his small body. He works very hard for his food, and the harder he works the more food he needs to keep going.

The mole is a miner who seldom comes out into the light of day. He spends his life digging, digging never ending tunnels in the soil. In 24 hours of hard. work, he can dig a tunnel 100 feet long. And all the time he digs he is searching for food, food, food to satisfy his enormous appetite. He is a carnivore  which means that he dines on fresh meat.

The Soil teems with grubs and bugs in all stages of development. There are insect eggs, larvae and pupae. There are ants and mites, beetles and burrowing wasps. There are also juicy earthworms of all sizes. All these creatures and mangy others live in the crumbly soil. To the hungry mole, all of these Earth dwellers are good to eat.

In one year, he eats more than 50 pounds of his favorite food. The mole eats a few earthworms, and earthworms are good for the soil. But most of his diet is insect meat, and a large percentage of these insects are our enemies. He devours burrowing crickets, cicada grubs and a  host of other insects that feed Upon the roots of our crops, trees and garden plants. Since he destroys our enemies, we should call him a friend, but most gardeners and farmers have not one good, word to say for the hard working mole.

He is unpopular because he shovels piles of soil on our grassy lawns. Sometimes he ruffles the dirt through a bed of baby seedlings. True., these crimes are annoying but Mr. Mole more than makes up for the damage he does by devouring quantities of the insects that devour our plants. And being a carnivorous animal., he never eats a plant.  The mole uses his front paws like a pair of shovels. They are fitted with sturdy claws, and he spades his way along as though he were swimming through the soil. He moves the claws in front of his nose. Then he pulls his wide feet around the back, scooping out a little cave. In. each scoop of loose dirt he hopes to find a morsel of food.

Life in the soil is quiet and very dark. Mr. Mole does not have to hear or see to hunt his food. He is almost blind, and his hearing is very poor. But he has a very keen sense of smell. He depends almost entirely upon his sense of smell to find his food. As he digs his way through the ground, he sniffs every spadeful of loose  soil in order to separate his groceries from the crumbly dirt.  

 

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