American shrew mole

Neurotrichus gibbsii

SUBFAMILY

Talpinae

TAXONOMY

Neurotrichus gibbsii (Baird, 1857), Naches Pass, Washington, United States. Three subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Gibb's shrew-mole, least shrew-mole; German: Amerikanischer Spitzmull, Amerikanischer Spitzmausmaulwurf; Spanish: Topo musaraña americano.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The body length is 3.5-5.2 in (8.9-13.2 cm), and the tail is 1.0-1.6 in (2.5-4.0 cm) long. Average adult weight ranges from 0.32-0.39 oz (9-11 g). A shiny, black to dark gray mole with a thick, hairy tail and only faintly widened hands. Males and females are similar.

DISTRIBUTION

Along the North American coast from southwestern British Columbia in Canada to central California in the United States.

HABITAT

Occurs in forests and shrubby areas, usually near a water source. BEHAVIOR

Although this mole does make burrows for resting, it also spends considerable amounts of time above ground, often scurrying through leaf litter or climbing into shrubs. It is also able

to swim. Unlike more fossorial moles, the only evidence of its burrowing are the small entrances. It packs the dirt into the walls rather than pushing it out to form molehills.

This species is unusual in that it will travel in groups, instead of taking on the solitary lifestyle of most moles.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Active day and night, this mole searches for food along the substrate in leaf litter and above ground in shrubs. It eats earthworms, insects, other invertebrates, and occasionally fungus or vegetation.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Little is known about its reproductive biology, but it appears to produce several litters of one to four young each year.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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