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Species Description

Eastern Mole

Scalopus aquaticus


Species Image

Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Insectivora
Family: Talpidae

Description

Their fur is short, silky, and silvery-gray to grayish brown or brownish black in color. Eastern moles are 14.4 - 18.7 cm (5.7 - 7.4 in) in total length. They have large front feet, with palms that face towards the rear and are as wide as long. Their tail is short and stubby. They have a hairless cone shaped muzzle, eyes that are very small and covered by thin skin, and no external ears.

Life Cycle

Eastern Moles breed in early spring and produce one litter per year. From 2 - 5 young are born about five weeks after mating. Young leave the nest at four weeks of age and stay with the female for a short period. Sexual maturity is reached at one year of age. Young are born and reared in nests constructed of grass and leaves in a chamber from 13 - 46 cm (5.1 - 18.1 in) beneath the surface, usually beneath a stump or root clump.

Natural History

Individual moles are solitary except during the mating season. They dig two types of tunnels, those used while foraging for food near the surface and permanent tunnels 15 - 60 cm (5.9 - 23.6 in) deep for nesting chambers and travel between foraging areas. The deeper tunnels are used year-round while surface tunnels are dug in the spring, summer and fall. The abandoned tunnels are used by other small mammals. Tunneling activity is important to the ecosystem because it mixs and aerate the soil. Eastern Moles feed mainly on earthworms and ground dwelling larval insects, but will also eat snails and adult insects. Eastern Moles inhabit any type of environment as long as the soil is well-drained loam or sand, they avoid soils with large amounts of clay or gravel. In mountainous areas they are restricted to river bottoms and other low-lying habitats. They are considered pests when they dig foraging tunnels in gardens, lawns and golf courses. Eastern Moles are active year-round and at any time of the day or night.

Range

Eastern Mole Region Map Eastern Moles range throughout Georgia, and the eastern United States.

Conservation Status

This species is common in the appropriate habitats.

Similar Species

The Star-nosed Mole has a long tail and 22 fleshy appendages that surround the nostrils.