Very modern mole catchers
If your idea of a mole catcher is a grisly old man with medieval traps driving a grubby old van, then think again. Times have changed. Derek James discovered moles in his garden and was delighted when Norfolk’s very own lady mole-catchers came to his rescue.
Holy Moley! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I looked out of the bedroom window and saw to my horror that we had had a visitor in the night, perhaps a whole gang of them. The day before I had cut the grass, sprinkled various seed and lawn treatments on it and was feeling quite proud of myself. Okay, it wasn’t Wimbledon, but it looked half decent.
Then the moles arrived. Little pyramids of earth all over the place. My heart sank. It was our first mole invasion. I didn’t fancy having a go at catching them myself so I looked on the internet – as you do nowadays – and found that Norfolk had its very own Lady Mole Catcher by the name of Louise Chapman.
I picked up the phone, asked for help, and a few hours later she was standing on the doorstep with her dog Buddy by her side and a box of tricks in her hand.
“Take me to the moles,” she said. “Come this way,” I replied.
“Are you the only lady mole catcher in Norfolk?” I asked.
“No, “I have a colleague. Alyona. She comes from Russia,” said Louise.
Amazing. There are only four lady mole catchers in the whole country and two of them are working in Norfolk helping to transform the image of mole catchers. Not only that but they treat these elusive little creatures with the utmost respect.
How how did Louise and Alyona get involved with mole catching? Louise, Norwich born and bred, used to be a teacher working at various schools across the city and county, and then one day while out for a walk in the countryside she noticed more and more mole hills and that got her thinking.
She loved gardens, had done some designing, but there were plenty of gardeners about so what about catching moles? Would it work? Could she do it? Louise is a woman who loves a challenge so she enrolled on a course at Easton Cottage, near Norwich, to learn more about moles and found that her life was about to change…welcome to the world of the Lady Mole Catcher.
She and Alyona have certainly shaken up the grim world of the traditional mole catcher.
“Moles have a magical quality about them. Yes, we kill moles but we do it in the most humane way possible with a simple trap which kills them instantly,” explains Louise.
“You hear all sorts about the way moles are killed. Stories about tunnels being torched or filled with fumes piped from car exhausts. It’s horrible,” said Louise.
What about the non-lethal methods you hear more about today? You see them on the internet. From garlic to moth balls and plastic things you stick in the ground.
“They don’t work. The mole just digs around any object which is in the way and carries on digging new runs. We are trying to outwit very clever animals. We use the best method of control because it is fast and efficient,” said Louise.
The increase in the number of moles – it is estimated there are up to 40 million of them in the country – came about after the use of strychnine to poison them was banned a few years ago. Because so many people used that method, the other more traditional ways of catching them have been neglected.
Over the past few years Louise has become an expert on the life and times of moles. “The more I learn, the more I respect them, They are such fascinating little creatures,” she said.
She gives talks to schools, groups and organisations and is an entertaining after-dinner speaker. The Lady Mole Catcher became so busy that she now works with the Country Mole Catcher, Alyona Hogg, who hails from Russia. Did she ever think she would be living in Norfolk catching moles?
“Never, ever. But I really love my job. In Russia people admire English gardens. They are so beautiful. In Russia we also have moles – but they are called mole rats and are much bigger,” said Alyona.
You can tell both of them enjoy being out in the fresh air, meeting all kinds of people, and, if the moles are doing no harm, they should be left alone to go about their business.
They want to update and refresh the image of the mole catcher and they are doing just that. You could almost hear the moles running for cover when they arrived in our garden to track them down. Lay the traps and dispatch them as quickly and humanely as possible.
And did they? Within a couple of days our moles were no more. So watch out moles. The ladies are coming to get you.
- For more details click on www.ladymolecatcher.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 01603 259945.
More about moles
- Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. Moles are champion diggers and can move 540 times their own body weight in earth each day. They are the ultimate digging machine and create a labyrinth of run systems underground.
- When Mr Mole finds Mrs Mole she allows him to mate with her and then, virtually bats him about the head to get him out of her run.
- Moles are the only mammals which spend most of the lives underground. It is a myth that they are blind although their vision is very poor as they live most of their lives in the dark.
- They do not have external ears, but “hear” through sound travelling down their nose, into internal ears.
- Moles live on a diet of worms and eat an average about 20 a day – half their own body weight. They have extraordinary strength for such a small creature.