Starnosed mole

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Condylura cristata

SUBFAMILY

Talpinae

TAXONOMY

Condylura cristata (Linnaeus, 1758), Pennsylvania, United States. Two subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Condylure etoile; German: Sternmull; Spanish: Topo de nariz estrellada.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Adults range from 6.1-8.1 in (15.5-20.5 cm) in total length, and 2.2-3.5 in (5.5-8.8 cm) in tail length. Adults weigh 1.1-3.0 oz (30-85 g). Males and females are similar. Brownish black, silky-furred mole with wide, shovel-like hands, distinctive tentacles surrounding the nostrils. The 22 fleshy tentacles are short and pink.

DISTRIBUTION

A North American species, this mole ranges from Labrador and Nova Scotia west to Manitoba, through the Great Lakes region of the United States and to South Carolina. A few spotty populations extend to coastal Georgia.

HABITAT

These semi-aquatic and fossorial moles live in damp- or soggy-soiled meadows or forests near water sources, such as marshes, swamps, streams, and lakes. Occasionally they will reside beneath lawns that are near water.

BEHAVIOR

The most noticeable feature of star-nosed moles is their tentacles, which are constantly in motion as the animal moves through its habitat. Once suspected of being capable to detect electric fields, the tentacles are now believed to have a tactile function, and help guide the animal through its tunnels or identify prey.

Evidence of star-nosed moles comes in the form of molehills, which are piles of dirt pushed out of the tunnels by the moles. Tunnels are generally shallow in the summer, and deeper in the winter. Some tunnels open into the water, where the mole will swim throughout the year, especially in colder months when terrestrial prey is scarce. During the winter, the star-nosed mole may also retreat into the deeper burrows to escape the cold, or emerge on land to burrow through the snow. This species commonly overwinters in small colonies, occasionally in male-female pairs.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Star-nosed moles are active foragers day and night, either finding earthworms, insect larvae, and other invertebrates in their tunnels, or swimming to hunt aquatic invertebrates, or an occasional small fish or crustacean. This mole also forages above ground.

Predators include birds of prey, snakes, fish, skunks, cats, and other mammals.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Mating occurs from late winter (in southern populations) to early summer and produces a single litter. May form monogamous pairs. In a dry nest made of leaves, grass, and other vegetation, the female gives birth to two to seven altricial young following a gestation of about 45 days. The young are independent at three to four weeks and become sexually mature at 10 months.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN, but its habitat has decreased as wetlands have been drained for human uses.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

This species typically lives in areas unsuitable for lawns, gardens, or farms, so is not usually known as a pest. ♦

Common name /

Scientific name/

Physical

Habitat and

Conservation

Other common names

characteristics

behavior

Distribution

Diet

status

Pyrenean desman

Shiny, grayish brown mole, lighter on the

Semiaquatic, mainly

Southwestern Europe.

Invertebrates, including

Vulnerable

Galemys pyrenaicus

belly, with a very long snout, tufted tail,

nocturnal animal that uses it

insect larvae and

English: Iberian desman;

and hands that are smaller than the feet.

webbed feet to swim among

crustaceans.

French: Le desman des

Body length 4.1-.3 in (10.5-13.5 cm);

swift mountain streams, and

Pyrénées; German: Pyrenäen-

tail length 4.9-6.1 in (12.5-15.5 cm).

occasionally slower moving

Desman, Almizclero; Spanish:

Weight averages 1.6-2.8 oz (45-80 g).

bodies of water located in

Desmán

altitudes of 200-3,940 ft

(60-1,200 m).

Large Japanese mole

A brownish gray mole with lighter ventral

Active day and night in fertile

Japan and Korea north

Earthworms, insects,

Not listed by

Mogera robusta

pelage and yellowish feet. Body length

areas, including cultivated

to southeastern Siberia.

and other invertebrates.

IUCN

5.5-7.9 in (14.0-20.0 cm); tail length

fields, this species makes

0.8 in (2.0 cm).

shallow foraging tunnels, as

well as deep, sheltering

tunnels.

Broad-footed mole

Light gray to black moles with broad

Extensive burrower,

North America from

Invertebrates.

Not listed by

Scapanus latimanus

hands and a thick tail. Body length 3.4-

preferring the moist ground

southern Oregon

IUCN

French: Taupe à larges pieds;

4.4 in (8.6-11.1 cm); tail length 0.8-2.2

of lush forests or water

mostly along the coast

German: Kalifornische

in (2.1-5.5 cm). Weight averages 1.4-

associated areas.

to northern Baja

Maulwurf, Kalifornischer

1.8 oz (40-50 g). Males are typically

California.

Breitfußmaulwurf

slightly larger than females.

[continued]

Common name / Scientific name/ Other common names

Physical characteristics

Habitat and behavior

Distribution

Diet

Conservation status

Gansu mole Scaponulus oweni German: Kansu-Maulwurf, Ansumaulwurf

Long-snouted mole with shiny, gray fur tipped in brown, and fairly broad hands. Body length 3.9-4.3 in (9.8-10.8 cm); tail length 1.4-1.5 in (3.5-3.8 cm).

Live in coniferous forests. Behavior is unknown.

Central China.

Unknown.

Not listed by IUCN

Short-faced mole Scaptochirus moschatus

Grayish brown, short-tailed mole with a stubby muzzle. Body length about 5.5 in (14.0 cm); tail length 0.4-0.6 in (1.01.6 cm).

The behavior of this species is little known. It occurs in arid, sandy areas.

Northeastern China.

Uncertain, perhaps beetle larvae.

Not listed by IUCN

Long-tailed mole Scaptonyx fuscicaudatus German:

Langschwanzmaulwurt

Mole with dark gray fur tipped in brown and hands that are only mildly broadened. Body length 2.4-3.5 in (6.0-9.0 cm); tail length 0.8-1.2 in (2.0-3.0 cm).

Lives in high altitude forests between 7,050 and 14,760 ft (2,150-4,500 m). Behavior is unknown.

Northern Myanmar to Sichuan and Yunnan, China.

Unknown.

Not listed by IUCN

Chinese shrew-mole Uropsilus soricipes English: Asiatic shrew-mole; German: Spitzmausmaulwurf

Long-tailed, shrew-like animal with a long snout and visible ears, but without the digging front limbs typical of many moles. Body length 2.5-3.5 in (6.3-8.8 cm); tail length 2.0-3.1 in (5.0-7.8 cm).

Lives in high altitude forests between 4,920 and 8,860 ft (1,500-2,700 m), probably spending much of its time beneath logs, leaf litter, or other debris. Its behavior is little known.

Central Sichuan, China.

Uncertain, but likely invertebrates.

Endangered

Greater Japanese shrew-mole Urotrichus talpoides German: Japanischer Spitzmull

Shiny, dark brown to black, shrew-like mole with mildly broadened hands and a hairy, often thick tail. Body length 2.5-4.0 in (6.4-10.2 cm); tail length 0.9-1.6 in (2.4-4.1 cm). Weight averages 0.5-0.7 oz (14-20 g).

Lives in forests and fields, and spends its time either in shallow burrows or above ground, where it ventures into shrubs and trees.

Japan.

Invertebrates, including worms, insects, and spiders.

Not listed by IUCN

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