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 - Star-nosed Mole (condylura Cristata): Species Accounts

mammals tunnels tentacles july

Physical characteristics: This dark-brown mole is best-known for the collection of twenty-two short and pink, fleshy tentacles on the tip of its snout. They have wide, clawed hands, and a tail that is almost as long as their body. Adults range from 6.1 to 8.1 inches (15.5 to 20.5 centimeters) and weigh 1.1 to 3.0 ounces (30 to 85 grams).


Geographic range: Star-nosed moles are found in the eastern United States and eastern Canada.


Habitat: Star-nosed moles prefer wet meadows and forests near water. Occasionally waterside homeowners may find evidence of one in a moist lawn area.

The star-nosed mole is best-known for the collection of twenty-two short and pink, fleshy tentacles on the tip of its snout. The tentacles act like feelers and help the animal to find its food and to make its way through the dark tunnels it digs. (© Rod Plank/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by perission.)

Diet: Star-nosed moles like grubs, earthworms, and other invertebrates, and will occasionally eat a small fish.


Behavior and reproduction: A star-nosed mole's always-wiggling tentacles act like feelers and help the animal to find its food and to make its way through the dark tunnels it digs. Active all year, and both day and night, this mole not only hunts for food inside its tunnels but above ground and in the water. Predators vary depending on the mole's location. When they are in the water, fish pose a threat. On land, meat-eating birds, snakes, and mammals may attack and kill moles. Other moles make long and winding mole runs, but the usual outward sign of the star-nosed mole is its molehills, which are small mounds of dirt at the entrances and exits for their tunnels. Although they are usually loners, two or more individuals may spend the winter together in shared, below-ground chambers. They do not hibernate, and even in the cold of winter, may leave their tunnels to dig through the snow. Females have one litter of two to seven babies each year. The young leave the nest in about a month, and begin having their own families by the following year.


Star-nosed moles and people: People rarely see star-nosed moles or recognize evidence of them, so interactions between these moles and humans are rare.


Conservation status: Star-nosed moles are not threatened. ∎

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Gorman, M. L., and R. D. Stone. The Natural History of Moles. Ithaca, NY: Comstock Publishing Associates, 1990.

Kurta, A. Mammals of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995.

Nevo, Eviatar, and Osvaldo Reig. Evolution of Subterranean Mammals at the Organismal and Molecular Levels. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1990.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Wilson, D., and S. Ruff, eds. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999.

Periodicals:

Catania, K. C. "A Comparison of the Elmer's Organs of Three North American Moles: The Hairy-Tailed Mole (Parascalops breweri), the Star-Nosed Mole (Condylura cristata), and the Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus)." Journal of Comparative Neurology 354 (1995): 150–160.

Mason, Matthew J., and Peter M. Narins. "Seismic Signal Use by Fossorial Mammals. " American Zoologist (November 2001): 1171–1184.

Web sites:

Hebert, P. D. N., ed. "Star-nosed mole, Condylura cristata." Canada's Aquatic Environments. http://www.aquatic.uoguelph.ca/mammals/freshwater/accounts/mole.htm (accessed on July 1, 2004).

Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group. http://members.vienna.at/shrew/itsesAP95-desmana.html (accessed on July 1, 2004).

"Talpidae." Discover Life. http://www.discoverlife.org/nh/tx/Vertebrata/Mammalia/Talpidae/ (accessed on July 1, 2004).

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