Mole

Mole.

Moles are small, burrowing mammals. Their eyes are poorly developed, but what they lack in sight, they make up for in their sense of touch. All of them have very sensitive snouts and long, clawed digits which they use to dig tunnels. The 22 tentacle-like protrusions on the snout of the star-nosed mole are six times more sensitive to touch than a human hand. Rather than having fur that lays flat and points toward the tail like most mammals, eastern moles have dense fur that sticks straight up. This prevents soil from becoming trapped in their coats when they back up through a tunnel. Males are usually bigger than females, although most species don’t exceed 25 cm in length. Moles are grouped into the category Insectivora, which means “insect eater.” Some species eat more than just insects, though. The star-nosed mole, for example, is a good swimmer and eats fish and aquatic invertebrates. The typical lifespan is probably less than two years for most species. Moles are fossorial, meaning that they spend much of their life digging underground burrows. Eastern moles can hollow out a 160 foot burrow in just one night. Most species live in meadow, grassland, woodland, wetland, or riparian habitats. However some, like the desert shrew, can live in arid regions. Found in the eastern states and southern Great Plains. The shrew-mole is native to the west coast. Most species are stable. Landscapers sometimes consider moles to be pests, since they can damage lawns and gardens. These small animals are very important, however, for aerating the soil and eliminating harmful insects. Credit: National Wildlife Federation.