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A mole in custody

A molecatcher is a person who traps or kills moles in places where they are considered a threat to crops, lawns, or gardens.

History of molecatching[edit]

Roman times[edit]

A mole trap

Excavations of Ancient Roman sites have revealed earthenware pots that had been set in the ground. The pots were filled with water, and acted as traps for moles.[1]

Traditional molecatchers[edit]

Many early molecatchers set out snares for the moles, taking care to remove human scent from the loops.[2] Over time, traps used to catch and kill moles became more advanced and complicated, incorporating weighted wood or cast iron, and eventually sprung steel.[2]

A mole killed by a spring trap

Molecatchers travelled from farm to farm. The molecatcher's customers would provide food and lodging, as well as a fee for every mole caught. The molecatcher could also earn money by selling the moleskins to fur dealers.[3]

Modern molecatching[edit]

In more recent times, traditional molecatching has given way to the use of poison.[4][5] Poison resulted in moles dying much more quickly and in greater numbers. For some time, strychnine was used to kill moles; its purchase was cheaper than paying molecatchers,[6] but sometimes other animals that shared the environment or interacted with moles were accidentally poisoned as well.[4]

Repellents, including sonic devices, holly leaves, moth balls, garlic and castor oil have not proven successful in preventing damage caused by moles.[7] Fumigation with products based on aluminium phosphide (Trade names 'Talunex' and 'Phostoxin') is still an app

In the United Kingdom[edit]

Strychnine is no longer an approved method of control in the UK, following the withdrawal of the poison from the market in 2006.[7] Fumigation with products based on aluminium phosphide (Trade names 'Talunex' and 'Phostoxin') is still an approved method of control, but may be carried out only by fully trained operatives.[7]

Since the removal of strychnine from the UK market, there has been a revival of traditional molecatching in Britain.[7] Modern traditional mole catchers use traps, and usually charge a 'per-mole' fee, as their forebears did. The price charged reflects the fact that there is no longer a market for moleskins.


  • Randa, Arthur (1970). Fenland Molecatcher. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0710068026. 
  • Smith, Guy N. (1980). Moles and Their Control. Saiga Publishing. ISBN 0904558827. 
  • Atkinson, Rob (2013). Moles. Whittet Books. 


  1. ^ Jeff Nicholls (2006). Molecatcher: A Guide to Traditional Molecatching Methods. Troubador Publishing Ltd. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-1-905237-76-0. 
  2. ^ a b Thomas Hennell (2 February 2012). Change in the Farm. Cambridge University Press. pp. 201–. ISBN 978-1-107-65140-1. 
  3. ^ Henry Tegner (November 1972). Natural history in Northumberland and Durham. Graham. p. 150. 
  4. ^ a b W. Carnegie (16 April 2013). Practical Trapping - A Description Of The Methods In Vogue For The Destruction Of Vermin. Read Books Limited. pp. 60–. ISBN 978-1-4474-9234-4. 
  5. ^ Graham Rose (1989). The Traditional Garden Book. Greenhouse. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-86436-263-6. 
  6. ^ Jeff Nicholls (1 October 2012). Mole Catching: A Practical Guide. Crowood. pp. 25–. ISBN 978-1-84797-470-9. 
  7. ^ a b c d Frances Hubbard (18 April 2015). "Louise used to be a drama teacher. Now she kills moles.". The Telegraph. 

External links[edit]