How to Catch Moles With Traps


Moles look a bit like mice, but they are quite different creatures. Moles are insectivores that build tunnels under the surface of lawns and other garden areas. They weigh three to six ounces and grow up to eight inches long. Their snouts are pointed and their tails are mere stubs. Unlike mice and other rodents, moles do not reproduce rapidly, so if you see signs of a raised tunnel, chances are you don't have a large infestation. If you use traps to control an invasion, you will likely have success eliminating a small population of moles on your property.

Catching Moles with Traps

Step 1

Study the mole tunnels in your yard to determine where your traps might be most effective. Look for tunnels that the moles frequently reopen because these are the main tunnels that they use every day. Tunnels of this type run in a fairly straight line for several feet or farther and they might have a mound at either end. These main runways often follow fence lines, foundations or sidewalks.

Step 2

Set traps in early fall or early spring for the most effective results, although you can set them at any time.

Step 3

Set harpoon traps into shallow tunnels: scoop out a small amount of soil from the center of a tunnel that appears to be active. Use your hands or a garden trowel. Place your trap over the top of the depression with its legs on either side of the tunnel, and then push the trap down into the soil. A "trigger pan" sits at a 45-degree angle towards the bottom of the trap---lay the trap so this pan lays flat on the opening you made. Then raise the trigger latch and force the trigger pan into the hole. Finally, hold the trap with your left hand, and then pull the setting tee up. When you purchase a trap, it will include the manufacturer's instructions for use: for safety and effectiveness, be sure to follow instructions closely.

Step 4

Set scissor-jaw traps into deep tunnels. With your trowel, dig into an active runway until you expose the tunnel. Make a small mound of soil in the middle of the tunnel, making sure it crosses the tunnel---it will provide a support for the trap's trigger pan. Different makes of scissors traps might function differently, so follow the manufacturer's instructions for setting and cocking this type of trap. Scissors traps include a safety hook: be sure to use it correctly. After you have placed the trap into the tunnel, fill the opening you made with loose soil.

Step 5

Check your traps every day and remove dead moles. Be sure to wear gloves when you handle them and dispose of all dead animals by burying them. Dig down on both sides of a your trap because the mole could be located beneath the trap's spikes. Because moles will dig new tunnels, monitor the occurrence of tunnels in your yard and set more traps as necessary.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use caution when you handle traps because they have sharp parts that can injure humans as well as moles. Always follow manufacturer's instructions.

Things You'll Need

  • Harpoon trap
  • Scissor-jaw trap
  • Garden gloves


  • The Mole Man: Control Methods
  • Ohio State University Extension: Effective Mole Control
  • University of Missouri Extension: Controlling Nuisance Moles
Keywords: garden pests, mole control, traps animals

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.