The ordinary mole hills, so plentiful in our fields, present nothing particularly worthy of notice. They are merely the shafts through which the quadruped miner ejects the material which it has scooped out, as it drives its many tunnels through the soil, and if they be carefully opened after the rain has consolidated the heap of loose material, nothing more will be discovered than a simple hole leading into the tunnel. But let us [Page 208] strike into one of the large tunnels, as any mole catcher will teach us, and follow it up to the real abode of the animal. The hill under which this domicile is hidden, is of considerable size, but is not very conspicuous, being always placed under the shelter of a tree, shrub, or a suitable bank, and would scarcely be discovered but by a practiced eye. The subterranean abode within the hillock is so remarkable that it involuntarily reminds the observer of the well-known “maze,” which has puzzled the earliest years of youth throughout many generations. The central apartment, or “keep,” if we so term it, is a nearly spherical chamber, the roof of which is almost on a level with the earth around the hill, and therefore situated at a considerable depth from the apex of the heap. Around this keep are driven two circular passages or galleries, one just level with the ceiling and the other at some height above. Five short descending passages connect the galleries with each other, but the only entrance into the keep is from the upper gallery, out of which three passages lead into the ceiling of the keep. It will be seen therefore that when the mole enters the house from one of its tunnels, it has first to get into the lower gallery to ascend thence into the upper gallery, and so descend into the central chamber. There is, however, another entrance into the keep from below. A passage dips downward from the centre of the chamber, and then, taking a curve upwards, opens into one of the larger burrows or high roads, as they may be fitly termed. It is a noteworthy fact that the high roads, of which there are several radiating in different directions, never open into the gallery opposite one of the entrances into the upper gallery. The mole therefore is obliged to go to the right or left as soon as it enters the domicile before it can find a passage to the upper gallery. By the continual pressure of the moles upon the walls of the passages and roof of the central chamber, they become quite smooth, hard, and polished, so that the earth will not fall in, even after the severest storm.
The use of so complicated a series of cells and passages is extremely doubtful, and our total ignorance of the subject affords another reason why the habits of this wonderful animal should be better studied.