Thursday, September 1, 2011

Soil Inhabitants: Eastern mole

Scalopus aquaticus

Vital Statistics:Size: 13-20 cm long, including tail (would fit inside a can of peas).
Lifespan: 3 years
Population: Several per acre.

Natural History:Moles use their webbed feet and strong shoulder muscles to literally swim through the soil. Unlike their cousins the shrews, moles are almost blind. They use their sense of smell and the ability to feel vibrations to find food and navigate.
Gardeners blame moles for ruining plants. But they don't actually eat plant roots or bulbs. Instead, they're hungry for earthworms and insect larvae. Moles help control populations of harmful insects. Digging is hard work. So an active mole must eat about half its entire body weight each day.
Moles dig their tunnels in open pastures, meadows, and woodlands. They like moist, sandy loam soil the best. A mole looking for food will tunnel just under the surface. Its digging helps loosen the soil and allows air in. Moles also dig deeper permanent tunnels and burrows. They use these for sleeping, raising young, and traveling to food sources.

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