Someone recently asked me what the commonest animal is that we hardly ever see in Hampshire.

The answer is easy- it is the mole. I have seen more lions, lynx and brown bear than I have mole (though I hasten to add not in the county).

In fact I can only remember two times I have seen a mole alive in 30 years of watching wildlife.

Moles are truly enigmatic creatures and spend most of their lives in the gloom of dark underground muddy tunnels.

Often the only evidence that you have been visited by a mole is the unwelcome appearance of mole hills or mole casts on the surface of well-tendered lawns and golf courses.

Not surprisingly moles have ended up getting a very bad name for themselves. But despite all the efforts to control them, they remain one of the commonest mammals in the UK.

It is hard to accurately estimate the number found in Hampshire; but it is entirely possible it is approaching one million.

As you may know, moles can’t see very much at all. Their eyes are a mere one millimetre across.

They can tell when it is light or dark-but that is about it. Instead of sight they have an amazing sense of touch, with a unique organ on their nose that enables them to build a three-dimensional picture of their world.

Some species of mole are so advanced that they can actually smell in stereo (much as we hear in stereo)! This incredible ability enables some moles to track down their food by smell alone.

Moles like to live by themselves and will aggressively defend their territories from other moles. Only in early spring do the males seek out a female and they will do this by digging and extending their tunnel networks in the hope of meeting a female coming the other way!

Because moles have no entrance and no exit to their burrows, the oxygen levels in the tunnels are very low.

So moles have a unique way of absorbing low oxygen levels into their blood stream to keep them alive in the poisonous underground air.

Some lawn enthusiasts despair at the sight of mole hill appearing on their manicured lawns; but moles also do gardeners a favour by munching through large quantities of slugs, as well as earthworms and beetles.

So if you are a lawn lover, but don’t want to kill the little creatures is there any way to dissuade them from digging?

One of the most successful control mechanisms is to remove the soil from the top of a mole hill and then gently dig until you find the tunnel entrance.

It will be a hole often going off at an angle about two inches or more across. Leave the hole open by inserting an upturned glass bottle into it.

Repeat the procedure on adjacent hills and the moles will often move elsewhere.

It is thought that the combination of noise and light prevents the moles from using the existing tunnel networks and they have to burrow into a new area.

Whether you are a fan or not of our Hampshire moles, lets take a moment this week to marvel at one of our most mysterious and most amazing mammals!