Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Mammals » Shrew Moles Moles and Desmans: Talpidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Moles, Shrew Moles, Desmans, And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET

Shrew Moles Moles and Desmans: Talpidae - Behavior And Reproduction

ground water tip feet

Most moles have long and narrow snouts that they are able to wiggle and bend. The snout tip has tiny Elmer's organs that the mole uses to sense its environment and to find prey. Desmans that spend a good amount of time underwater use their snouts for several purposes. In one common behavior, a desman will stick just its snout tip out of the water to sniff the air for prey as well as predators, animals that hunt them for food. They will also dig through the water bottom with their snouts looking for food.

Some moles are active mainly at night, but others move around both day and night. The land-living, digging species are capable of making tunnels quickly for such a small animal. The eastern mole, which is less than 12 inches (30 centimeters) long from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, can tunnel up to 15 feet (4.6 meters) in a single hour, and more than 100 feet (30 meters) in a day. Their tunnels are often visible from above ground, and look like long, sometimes-branching strings of broken ground. These are called mole runs. A molehill is a circular mound of dirt that is created when the mole pops above ground from the tunnel. Both the land-living and the water-loving species also dig deeper chambers for breeding and to escape the winter cold. Moles usually spend their lives alone, although some are more social. Reports suggest that Russian desmans may share their dens on occasion.

After mating one or two months earlier, most moles have one set, or litter, of about three to five babies in early to midsummer. A few species have one or more additional litters later in the year. The young are helpless and naked at birth, but after approximately four to six weeks, they are ready to leave the mother. The young can have babies of their own within a year.


At first glance, an observer might think that the smallest mole in North America is actually a shrew. Its size of just 3.5 to 5.2 inches (8.9 to 13.2 centimeters) is similar to shrews, and it does not have the large front feet that are common in many moles. Most of its activity occurs above ground, where it runs beneath the leaf litter in a manner similar to shrews. Land-living moles, on the other hand, are mainly tunneling animals. Even its name can be confusing. This small animal is called the American shrew-mole.

Shrew Moles Moles and Desmans: Talpidae - Moles, Shrew Moles, Desmans, And People [next] [back] Shrew Moles Moles and Desmans: Talpidae - Physical Characteristics

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