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Golden Moles: Chrysochloridae

Grant's Desert Golden Mole (eremitalpa Granti): Species Account

Physical characteristics: One of the smallest golden moles, this species reaches only about 3.0 to 3.3 inches (7.6 to 8.8 centimeters) in body length and weighs 0.5 to 1.0 ounces (15 to 32 grams). On its back, it has long, shiny, light-gray fur that is sometimes tinged with yellow. Its underside fur is lighter and yellowish. Grant's desert golden mole has three long claws on each forelimb, although they aren't as hefty as the claws in some other golden mole species.

Geographic range: South Africa and the Namib Desert in extreme southwestern Africa.

Habitat: Coastal sand dunes, typically areas with some dune grass, are its preferred habitat.

Grant's desert golden mole prefers to live in coastal sand dunes, where it searches for food at night and spends the days in shallow burrows. (Illustration by Jacqueline Mahannah. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Its diet consists of various invertebrates, such as spiders, termites, beetles, and ants, that it hunts at night. When the opportunity presents itself, these moles will also eat kill and eat lizards, some of which may be as long as the mole.

Behavior and reproduction: Active at night, it will venture above ground in search of prey, sometimes covering as much as 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometers) in a single twenty-four-hour period. It spends its days in shallow burrows. Interestingly, this species doesn't maintain a constant body temperature during the day. Instead, its body becomes cooler or warmer with the temperature of the sand around it. In breeding season, the females will crawl into deeper tunnels that may lie 6 feet (1.8 meters) or more beneath the surface, where it gives birth to and raises typically one or two offspring. As soon as the youngsters are old enough to survive alone, the mother forces them out of her nest. Although details about behavior are lacking, scientists believe that males may mate with more than one female, and therefore father numerous young with different females. Outside of breeding season, adult moles live alone and have little contact with other adults.

Grant's desert golden moles and people: Since this is a desert species that lives in sand dunes away from most people, it has little impact on humans.

Conservation status: The IUCN lists the Grant's golden mole as Vulnerable. Dune removal and diamond mining are destroying the habitat within the limited range of this animal, but efforts are under way to create a national park, which will protect at least part of the mole's range. ∎



Apps, P. Smithers' Mammals of Southern Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Struik Publishers, 2000.

Kingdon, J. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1997.

Nowak, R. M. Walker's Mammals of the World Online. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/insectivora/insectivora.chrysochloridae.eremitalpa.html (accessed on July 1, 2004).

Smithers, R. H. N. The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Pretoria, South Africa: University of Pretoria, 1983.

Web sites:

"Insectivore Specialist Group 1996, Eremitalpa granti." 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.redlist.org (accessed on July 1, 2004).

"A Mammal that Imitates Reptiles." Clive Cowley's Journey into Namibia: Namibia Guidebook #12. http://www.orusovo.com/guidebook/content8.htm (accessed on July 1, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsGolden Moles: Chrysochloridae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Grant's Desert Golden Mole (eremitalpa Granti): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, GOLDEN MOLES AND PEOPLE