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MOLES

FAMILY TALIPIDAE

     The family Talpidae not only includes the burrowing moles but the semi-aquatic desmans (one species of desman is known from western Europe, the other from Russia).  Moles are burrowing animals whose front feed are expanded for digging.  Their eyes are tiny and they lack external ears.  They perceive the world through smell and touch since their small eyes are covered by fur and they lack external ears.   While some tunnels dug by moles can be close to the surface, most are deeper tunnels from 5 to 150 cm below the surface.  Their invertebrate food sources burrow deeper in times of drought and with cooler temperatures.

    Moles possess a long and thin scapula (shoulder blade) and a very thick humerus.  In some moles, such as Talpa, a falciform bone acts like a 6th digit.  Moles have twice the levels of hemoglobin in their blood as most mammals.  Most of their diet consists of earthworms, but also feed on insect larvae, mollusks, and other invertebrates (including members of 40 insect families).  Star nosed moles are the only members of the family which often eat above ground.  Predators of include herons, crows, foxes, dogs, weasels, mink, and cats (Gorman, 1990).

    

      Starnose moles (Condylura cristata) typically occur near aquatic environments and can swim well.  They are active both day and night.  Although they lack an acute sense of smell, their snout possesses 22 projections which can help it detect food.  Starnose moles feed on worms and aquatic insects.

STARNOSE MOLE  

     Eastern moles (Scalopus aquaticus) are active throughout the year, both day and night.  They feed on worms, insects and plants. 

MOLE  

     Hairytail moles (Parascalops breweri) feed on worms and insects and can consume 3 times their body weight in food per day.  Some of their tunnels are a foot and a half deep (Burt, 1976).