Description and features
A huge number of species of the most diverse organisms inhabit the water element, most of the planet’s fauna has settled overland. But a world rich in life is also an underground kingdom. And its members are not only small primitive forms: worms, arachnids, insects, their larvae, bacteria and others.
To the creatures spending their days underground are also mammals. Among these creatures can be called a mole. The animal has not been studied as thoroughly as it would like. And the reason for the peculiarities of such creatures, inhabiting the inaccessible, hidden from the human eye areas.
These fauna representatives are considered to be a mole family. Physiological details of their appearance prove how beautifully they are adapted to that unusual way of life, which is inherent in them, that is, underground. Here, first of all, it would be nice to mention their paws, without which it would be impossible for such creatures to survive in their usual environment.
Moles are not rodents, they do not dig at all with their teeth, but actively using their forelimbs. Therefore, their rounded brushes, resembling oars, are wide enough, with palms turned outward. And their fingers, which are considerably apart, are equipped with powerful, large claws.
Hind legs are not endowed with great strength and skill, but mainly serve to rake, previously loosened front limbs, the soil.
Other features of appearance (they, as already mentioned, are clearly visible in the photo of a mole) are: an elongated muzzle, an elongated nose, a short, thin tail. The body of such animals is covered with short fur, so that its length does not interfere with the movement of these creatures along the underground paths.
In addition, their hair grows in an unusual way — up. It is endowed with the property of curving in either direction, which again contributes to an unhindered underground movement. The tone of the hair, as a rule, is gray or black-brown.
But exceptions are known, depending on the variety and some features of the structure. There are among such animals, although very rare, and albinos.
Describing the sense organs of these creatures, it should be noted that these animals are almost blind. Actually, they do not need good eyesight. And small beads-eyes of moles are only able to distinguish darkness from light.
Their structure is very primitive and unlike the organs of sight of most mammals, and some components of the details, for example, retina and lens are completely absent. But the eyes of these underground creatures, in the dense fur of animals almost indistinguishable to the outside view, are perfectly protected, covered from getting into them soil particles, mobile, often completely drawn-out lids.
But the smell and hearing in moles are well developed. And small ears are also protected by skin folds.
In general, the underground world of mammals is very diverse, because there are enough animals similar to moles that they prefer to hide from life’s dangers and the vicissitudes of climate under the earth. These include, for example, a shrew — a creature with an extended muzzle, covered with velvety short fur.
And not necessarily all of the mentioned representatives of the animal kingdom live exclusively and only under the ground. Yes, they are not there all the time of their existence, namely, they seek shelter, dig holes or find shelters made by someone else.
Among them, desman, who are considered close relatives of moles and is ranked in the same family. They are also drawn to the ground, although they spend half of their time in the water. Living in burrows are, in addition, all known foxes and badgers, as well as chipmunks, wild rabbits, a huge number of rodents and many others.
Types of moles
There are about four dozen species of moles on Earth. The most common and widely known of them is the ordinary mole, which is also called European mole. These animals are planted, as you might guess, in Europe and are common all the way to Western Siberia. They weigh usually not more than 100 g and have a body length of up to 16 cm.
Among other members of the family, some need to be mentioned separately.
1. Mole shrews Japanese — a small animal is only about 7 cm long. In some cases it can be seen among the tall grass in the meadows and forests of the islands of Tsushima, Dogo, Shikoku and Honshu. The long proboscis of such creatures, located on an elongated muzzle, is provided with sensitive tactile hairs.
The tail is of considerable size, fluffy, in it quite often large enough stocks of fat are accumulated. Sometimes it happens that such animals come to the surface of the earth in search of food and even climb to low bushes and trees.
2. Mole shrew American. Such animals are common in some states of Canada and the USA. Their fur is soft, dense, can be black with a bluish tint or have a dark gray scale. Representatives of this species are similar in many ways to the members of the species just described, so much so that some zoologists are inclined to consider them to be the closest relatives.
The size of such creatures have about the same. In addition, the length of the body of American individuals is greatly supplemented by a rather large tail. Such animals can also climb in the bushes and swim well.
3. Siberian mole, also called Altaic. Much in common with European moles, however, women’s and men’s representatives, not the last, seem to differ significantly from one another. And first of all in size.
These are large moles. Males from the Siberian variety can have a length of almost 20 cm and reach a mass of 145 g, females are smaller much. Fur of animals has dark shades: brown, brown, black, gray-lead.
The body of such creatures is round, massive, legs short. On the narrowed muzzle an elongated proboscis is allocated. Ear shells in such animals are not at all available.
4. Caucasian mole. It is also similar to the individuals of the European variety, but some elements of the structure and appearance are very peculiar. Their eyes are even more underdeveloped than other moles. They are practically invisible and hidden under a thin layer of skin.
Young individuals of this variety can boast of rich, shiny black fur. However, with age, its shades fade.
5. Mogera Ussuriyskaya — a very interesting species, whose representatives are famous for their size, being, according to these indicators, the record holders among all members of the worm family. The body weight of male specimens can reach 300 g or more, and body dimensions are about 210 mm.
Such animals are widespread in Korea and China. On the Russian expanses are found in the Far East and in the regions adjacent to this region. The eyes and ears of such creatures are underdeveloped. Coloring in brown tones with addition of brown and gray hue, in some cases with metallic tint. This species of living creatures is declared rare, and active measures are taken to protect it.
6. Mole-star — a North American resident, also known as a star. The nose of such animals has a very unique, truly original structure and consists of a large number of small tentacles, provided with a multitude of receptors.
All these devices are designed for a successful search for food. Otherwise, such animals are similar to European moles in all details except for an unusually long tail. These creatures are very fond of water, swim well and skillfully dive.
Lifestyle and habitat
To better understand what kind of animal the mole, it is necessary to describe in detail the life of these interesting creatures. As it is already clear, their existence passes under the ground. Only not any types of soil are suitable for them. Therefore, these fauna representatives prefer to populate wet areas with a fairly loose soil.
On the other hand, they simply could not cope, because they are engaged in the endless digging of numerous underground networks of courses and labyrinths. Such animals rarely come across to humans, as moles are extremely rare on the surface.
However, sometimes on the fields and meadows you can contemplate the characteristic earth embankments. This is the result of the vital activity of such beings. Moles prefer to throw surpluses of land to the surface.
Due to the peculiarity of existence, moles were included in the list of very dangerous and daring agricultural pests. Under the ground they excite crops and break down the roots of plants. But we should not forget that in this case the animals loosen the soil, which makes the oxygen exchange in it very active, which contributes to the vital activity of the same plants and useful microorganisms.
For moles, there is no particular difference: a day on earth or night, which is not surprising, given their blindness and way of life. These animals have very different biorhythms.
The period is up to four hours, they are awake, then they rest, then again during a similar period of time they give themselves up to activity. It should be noted that such animals are unable to sleep more than three hours.
Under the earth, especially not travel, but because of the large displacements these animals do not commit. Except for, except, unusually hot summer periods. At the indicated time, the moles tend to move closer to the rivers and other fresh water bodies, so that their organisms do not lack moisture.
A mole is not a fan of society. And this applies to all living beings, and to relatives in particular. Such animals are hardened loners, in addition, large owners. Each of them strive to get into his possession an individual piece of land, the right to which he certainly wants to protect, and very zealously.
Moles do not have an easy character. And sometimes they are extremely aggressive, and this applies not only to male individuals, but also to the female half. To imagine the density of the population of moles, we note that on a plot of 1 hectare can settle from several specimens of such animals to three dozen.
If the moles were left to be neighbors, they try not to cross each other. Each of the animals has its own underground passages, where they tend to remain, relations with the congeners of not supporting. In the event that these creatures accidentally encounter, they try to disperse as quickly as possible, without creating problems for themselves.
Although each of them in the shower would happily occupy the territory of another. Therefore, if a neighbor who lives in adjacent territories dies, this is sniffed out quickly enough. And those of their moles that are quicker, seize the vacant living space, but in some cases divide it between the applicants.
How do these animals distinguish busy areas from free ones? On the possessions belonging to them, these creatures leave marks, and the substance that they sing out at the same time contains a very fragrant secret.
In winter, moles do not fall into a hibernation. To colds they are prepared in a different way: they dig deep holes, accumulate fat and food reserves. Only under the ground these animals are safe. Going outside, they become completely defenseless. That is why they are successfully attacked by martens, owls, foxes and other predators.
These creatures belong to the detachment of insectivores, hence, and their diet corresponds to this. The main animal feeds the soil mole in fodder courses, that is, dug underground tunnels, with the help of a perfectly distinguishable odor of the nose.
He eats slugs, larvae of beetles, earthworms. But these underground inhabitants hunt and go to the surface. There they catch beetles, ants, frogs, small rodents. Vegetable food, these animals, in spite of some unreliable rumors, do not eat at all. Nutritional metabolism of moles is quite intense, and they need about 150 grams of animal feed per day.
By the end of autumn, preparing for the cold, such animals begin to make themselves winter reserves, immobilizing their prey by means of a bite. Such pantries, which are usually in the immediate vicinity of the nest, contain more than 2 kg of feed.
Reproduction and life expectancy
Uncommunicative moles for short matrimonial periods make exceptions, as they are forced to meet with individuals of the opposite sex in order to continue the genus. But for males such communication is very short.
After the coitus, which again occurs under the ground, they return to their usual lonely life and the offspring are not at all interested. Mating occurs once a year, and its time depends largely on the habitat of animals.
The offspring are born by themselves for about 40 days, then several (up to five) poorly formed, uncoated cubs appear. A mole is a mammal, so it is clear that newborns begin to eat mother’s milk, which is characterized by sufficient fat content.
But they develop quickly, and therefore in a couple of weeks they gradually move on to other kinds of food, consuming earthworms in large quantities. At a month’s age, the young can already independently dig underground passages, obtain feed and exist without maternal care.
Therefore, a new generation of moles for settlement finds its own free territory.
These animals can live up to the age of seven. But in natural conditions they often die much earlier than teeth of predators and various diseases.