Feeding ecology and diet

Talpids make good use of their Eimer's organs, which are sensory receptors on their snouts, to identify and perhaps to locate food items. The organs, which contain nerve cells, respond to touch and may also pick up seismic vibrations. The latter would help a fossorial mole, in particular, to hunt prey items in the dark tunnels. Some scientists suggest that talpid moles, including Condylura species, may also be able to feel vibrations through their forepaws. Despite these interesting adaptations possibly used in hunting, burrowing talpids seem to find most of their food by simply bumping into it while moving through their tunnels.

A star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) foraging for worms. (Photo by Dwight Kuhn. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
A common Eurasian mole (Talpa europaea) heading out of its tunnel. (Photo by J-C Carton. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
A star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) drinking. (Photo by Dwight Kuhn. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Swimming species, on the other hand, do appear to engage in active hunting, and are able to catch even small fish. Several fossorial, terrestrial, and semi-aquatic talpids also eat vegetative matter, but the primary diet item is invertebrates.

Predators mainly are larger mammals, including domestic cats and dogs that will unearth fossorial moles. Talpids' strong musky odor, however, often repels attackers.

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