Books

How to catch a mole

By November 19, 2019 No Comments

I sometimes see angry home owners looking at mole hills in their lawns, wondering what to do about them. And I also see metal traps with orange flagging and solar-powered noise makers designed to keep moles away.

So when I read a story about Marc Hamer’s new book “How to catch a mole“, I was intrigued; and I eventually bought the audio version from Audible and listened to it at work. It was an easy 3:45 listen; at my preferred 1.5 x speed it was actually shorter.

Hamer lives in Wales and in the introduction he promises to teach you about moles; and he succeeds. We also learn about the author’s early vagabond life and how he eventually settled down with his wife and two kids. He works as a gardener and catches moles in winter for extra income. The book is also full of poems.

If you like poems, I suggest you buy the print version or slow down the audio. I’m not a great fan of poetry so I let the details escape me. I was after mole information and I got plenty of it.

Mole catchers in the UK go back a long way. Some have built lucrative careers from mole catching.

Hamer charges per animal caught and the process is fascinating. But it also relies on his “feel” and experience. Don’t expect to become an expert mole catcher after reading this book.

The mole

Moles are fascinating. Many species are blind and the ones Hamer catches have tiny eyes that can’t focus. Moles rely on their sense of smell. That’s why when Hamer sets his traps he must hurry because moles can detect fresh air in their tunnels. Fresh air alerts them and they can quickly block sections of their tunnels.

The mole’s preferred meal is earthworms and they know that earthworms will regrow after losing one of their ends. So the mole bites off their heads and parks them underground. The earthworms won’t go anywhere while they regrow their missing body parts.

The end

One day Hamer pulls out a trap and one of the two moles is still alive. Since the animal would surely die, there is only one thing to do: he has to kill it with his own hands. And this turns out to be the last mole he catches. Disgusted with killing, Hamer realizes it’s time to retire from mole catching.

We learn that Hamer is getting old, his body is slowing down and he finds comfort in nature. There is a lot of reflection on old age and spending time in nature. People still call him about moles but he tells them he’s now retired. That leaves plenty of time to write and narrate this book.

We don’t have to kill moles. We can just grow meadows and let them be.

 

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