Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Application of a bone-oil based repellent to European mole Talpa europaea tunnels as non-lethal means of exclusion in a pasture near Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

Published source details

R. P. D. Atkinson & D. W. MacDonald (1994) Can repellents function as a non-lethal means of controlling moles (Talpa europaea)? Journal of Applied Ecology, 31, 731-736


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Use repellents that smell bad (‘area repellents’) to deter crop or property damage by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Randomized, replicated, controlled studies in 1989–1990 on three farms in Oxfordshire, UK (Atkinson & MacDonald 1994) each found that a bone-oil based repellent (Renardine) reduced use of treated areas by moles Talpa europaea. Moles avoided the 25% of their home range that was treated with the repellent for 9–27 days (moles’ home ranges treated similarly, but with water, were not avoided). With close to 100% of their home ranges treated, moles avoided reoccupying treated areas for 42 hours to at least nine days. Moles took longer to cross a repellent-treated slit, cut across their home ranges (26 days) than a similar water-treated slit (four hours). The repellent, Renardine [use of which is prohibited in some countries], was soaked into rolled toilet paper and pushed into one mole tunnel/m2 in the 25% most heavily used part of home ranges (three moles) in spring 1989 or into all identified tunnels in the home range (four moles) in late summer 1989. One site was used in each case. Water-soaked toilet paper acted as a control at the 25% site (two moles). At a third site, 0.5 l/m of Renardine was poured into a 50-cm-deep slit across six home ranges in autumn/winter 1990. The slit was filled with peat, and a further 0.5 l/m of Renardine poured on top. One further home range was treated similarly, but with water. Mole movements were monitored by radio-tracking.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)