How to Get Rid of Moles and Voles as a Vegan?

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to get rid of moles or voles in your garden in a non-fatal, humane way, you wouldn’t be alone. Unfortunately, the most effective methods are often bad news for our furry little friends. Getting rid of moles without the use of fatal methods like poison takes patience and involves the use of traps. Ultimately, the best way to keep moles and voles out of your garden is to prevent them from setting up shop there in the first place.

Nobody said being a vegan would be easy. Contrary to the belief that being a vegan means not eating meat and being a bit preachy, there is a lot of sacrifices that need to be made to pursue what is inarguably a noble cause, and those sacrifices don’t always come from the places you would expect. On top of not eating meat, you also have to avoid products that are made using methods of animal exploitation. And, it should go without saying that killing animals yourself is off the table. Hunting is typically the first thing that comes to mind, in this context, but there is far more to it than deer or fox hunting because the little critters that ruin your garden and eat your crops are not exempt from vegan protection.

Knowing how to get rid of voles and moles without using lethal force is knowledge that many vegans have to acquire, since growing your own food is a natural extension of the vegan lifestyle and one that many vegans already practice while many more aspire to. Unfortunately, the easiest methods for getting rid of the little furry ones eating your cabbages are not necessarily concerned with the health of said animals.

Identifying Your Problem

The first step to getting rid of your unwanted garden-guests safely and without harming them is to understand exactly what you are dealing with. Moles and voles are often lumped together as essentially the same thing, but this is not the case. And, if you were just planning to lace your garden with poison and kill everything in sight, it wouldn’t matter if you knew the difference.

As we said, nobody said being vegan would be easy.

Mixing these two up is an easy mistake to make. They are both small mammals that tunnel under your garden, and there is a good chance you will never actually see them in person, just the aftermath of their day-to-day activities. If you do catch a glance, however, they are quite different. Voles are small, stocky rodents, not dissimilar to field mice. Moles, on the other hand, feature oversized hands and feet and, at a glance, appear to have no eyes.

Though not a guaranteed method, one way you can distinguish between the two is whether or not you have seen it at all. Moles live their whole lives underground, tunneling around and eating earthworms. So, if you see it above ground, the chances are it’s a vole, not a mole.

Why Get Rid of Them?

It would be nice to believe that we can peacefully co-exist with every creature in nature. Unfortunately, the reality is that, as nature would have it, we would as likely be eating these cute little critters as we would the crops they are ruining. Now, we may have made the higher choice to protect our vulnerable little friends, but moles and voles are not capable of that same kind of decision. In short, their general day-to-day lives can wreck your garden.

In the case of moles who, as stated above, primarily eat earthworms, this is more of an incidental problem since they rarely peak their head above ground and are not interested in your homegrown vegetables. They also dig their tunnels deeper than voles and are actually good for the soil as they help to plow it. Still, they can become a nuisance if their tunnel-making gets a little out of control.

Voles, on the other hand, like to eat plants. In particular, they are fond of grass blade stems, and their tunnels are much closer to the surface than moles. If you can see the evidence of a tunnel from above ground, it’s more likely to be a mole who made it. Another identifying attribute of voles is their population cycle. There is typically a population boom every three to five years, so if you find your garden going through the wars every few years, that would indicate a sizeable vole population.

Catching Moles and Voles

There is no feasible way to lure moles and voles away from your garden and have any kind of certainty that they won’t just come back. And, unless your plan is to head outside with a big mallet and sit by the nearest molehill waiting for a little furry head to pop up, catching them alive is the only way to be sure of getting rid of them.

And, no, real-life whack-a-mole isn’t a thing.

So, we are left with humane traps. The simplest form of mole trap—which can also be effective with voles as they tend to use mole tunnels—is essentially a tube with a one-way flap at either side. You would locate a mole tunnel, set the trap into the tunnel, and wait. Eventually, the mole would come along that tunnel going about its business, crawl through one of the flaps into the tube, and be stuck there. It may be a little distressed, but it would be alive and unharmed.

It’s important to note that, should you use a method like this in an effort to get rid of your unwanted friends without killing them, you will need to check the trap regularly. If you put the trap down and forget about it, you may just be creating a tomb full of starved little critters!

Another thing to consider—though it skirts the line of humane—is to get a cat or a rat-chasing dog like a terrier. These animals will tend to hunt moles and voles, with the hope being that this will scare the voles and moles away. The risk, of course, is that your little guard cat or dog will be too good at their job and actually catch the moles and voles and kill them. Unfortunately, it is very hard to train a dog to catch a rodent without killing it, and almost impossible to train a cat to do anything. Another risk is that your dog may do more damage to your garden digging for moles than the moles themselves do!

In our opinion, a humane trap is the only reliable way to catch a mole or vole without killing it.

What to do With Caught Voles and Moles

Unfortunately, there is no special method for getting rid of your furry friends once you have caught them. Your best bet is to take them somewhere and set them free, being sure to check that you are not breaking any local laws in doing so, of course. Voles are known to be able to find their way back to their home from as much as a kilometer away, so you will need to go some distance before you set them free. And, be responsible; don’t set them free in your local park where they will just damage public property rather than yours.

Prevention is the Best Defense

If your mole or vole problem is relatively minor, or you don’t have a mole or vole problem and would like to keep it that way, prevention is the way to go. Dissuading moles and voles from making a home of your garden in the first place will save you the hassle of having to catch them later on.

Repellents are available for this purpose; however, they are not always effective and need to be reapplied after rain. This is not to say you shouldn’t use them, but it may be worth using them in conjunction with other methods if you are going to go down that route.

In addition to store-bought repellents, you can also try more natural remedies, such as sprinkling garlic and onion into the tunnels. This won’t harm the critters, but it will make them think twice about using those tunnels.

It is also useful to remember that voles and moles aren’t necessarily interested in your vegetable garden, so they are not likely to make a special effort to get to it. If you encircle your vegetable garden with a little mesh, being sure to bury it at least a foot deep, and ideally a foot above ground also, the chances are you won’t have to worry about little furry diggers getting in. They will most likely reach the fence and turn around.

Dealing With the Aftermath

Once you have dealt with your vole or mole problem, you may have a bit of a mess to clean up. Mole activity, in particular, is most vigorous around springtime and can leave quite a mess. Fortunately, the tunnels themselves will usually subside if you leave them. You may have to replant a little grass, however.

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