16 FEBRUARY 1945, Page 13


SIR,—Dr. Kitching invites me to answer some interesting questions about moles and their ways. I wish I could respond with confidence ; but my first-hand knowledge of that mysterious community has necessarily been limited to casual week-end enc,outners in a few meadows near my house, and I am better fitted to add to his questions than to answer them. What purposes, for example, lead moles to travel above ground? There is, it seems, a Smethwick legend that only moonstruck moles so travel ; while Warwickshire folklore, I read, maintains that moles leave the ground but once a year to get fresh air and sunlight. It seems to be established that they come overland to collect leaves for their nests ; and a Yorkshire

reader of yours has kindly drawn my attention to an assurance of Gervase Markham's that he had seen fifty or sixty moles caught in one March night by the device of putting a single live—presumably female—mole in a basin sunk in the ground. What, again, is the truth about their swim- ming powers? The Rev. Dr. Grierson, of Cockpen, printed a letter from one W. Maeritchie which described moles swimming I5o yards to an island in a lake.

I have not come across the tracks of any field naturalist now studying and recording the ways of moles, as Mr. Lionel Adams did some years ago near Stafford, and Mr. Evans in Scotland. If any such there be, I should be glad to hear of him. The best living sources for the informa- tion, which Dr. Kitching invites and which I should like to share with him, are the old mole-catchers—a disappearing guild, whose lore, since they are not good penmen, threatens to vanish with them. I hope that his letter may induce some of your country readers to gather from the lips of such men the fruits of their continuous and professional observation. The results, unless, As may well be, your readers feel the impatience of Hotspur in Henry IV—" He angers me With telling me of the moldwarp and the ant "—would be happily entrusted to the safe deposit of your columns ; but I should be interested by any means to hear of them.—