Moles within Mount Moreland Conservancy

There are two types of Moles that occur at Mount Moreland
1) Golden mole - makes mounded tunnels - see details below
2) Mole rat - makes individual mounds - see details below
If you find a dead mole please pop into a plastic bag and seal, place in your deep freezer and deliever to the Durban Natural Science Museum. Much is still to be investigated with the mole species. Make your contribution to science.

Although moles can be a garden nuisense they do play an important role within the bio-diversity.

Do not pioson or kill moles, their role is important and removing them from the eco chain will result in devasting results.

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The Rat Mole

Mole Rat

Family: Bathyergidae: Mole rats which are in fact neither mole nor rat, but an assemblage of doubtful relationships.
The average body length of a common mole rat is 10.5 to 16.5 cm, the tail is 1.2 to 3.8 cm. The fur is thick with many different colors, with a distinct white spot on the head. The shape of the body is cylindrical with short appendages. Common mole rats also have chisel-like incisors that are used for digging. Common mole rats are fossorial mammals that can live in a wide range of substrates.

They are herbivorous, mainly eating geophytes (plants with underground storage organs) and grass rhizomes. Common mole rats are very widespread, thus their abundance is not well known. This species shows signs of localization due to soil requirements. The pattern of burrowing systems for common mole rats optimizes their access to food, especially gephytes.

Burrowing has a negative economic impact in that it damages human property but it is also positive in that it improves soil drainage and turnover. Common mole rats are social creatures that live in family units up to 14 individuals. They showcase eusocial behavior, which involves specialized behavior and cooperative care of the young. Younger mole rats would likely be workers and older mole rats could be casual workers. These workers, for the most part, burrow and forage, with casual workers not working as much as younger workers. The oldest mole rats are breeders

More info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_mole_rat

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Hottentot Golden Mole - Zulu Golden Mole

Amblysomus hottentotus is the most widely distributed species of golden moles in southern Africa. It is found from the southeastern region of South Africa into Swaziland and southern Mozambique.

Physical Description
Golden mole weight ranges from 40 to 101 g, with males being larger than females. Males have a head and body length that ranges from 115 to 145 mm and a mean body weight of 80 g., while females have a head and body length that ranges from 120 to 125 mm and a mean body weight of 66 g. Average skull length is 26 mm and the average width is 15.5 mm.

Golden moles have a cylindrical shape and are coveredHottentot Golden Mole - Zulu Golden Mole in fur that varies from reddish to dark brown. The fur grows back toward the hind area and is darker at the tip of the hair than at the base, it has an irridescent sheen. The fur helps to keep these animals dry from moisture in the ground. Underneath this sleek fur is a woolly undercoat that serves as insulation. The fur on the sides and underparts is gray, and the fur color on the cheeks is pale. The tops of the hind feet are covered in hair that is a blackish color.

Hottentot golden mole eyes are covered in skin and they are completely blind. The external ears are not visible and the openings are covered with fur. A smooth, leathery pad covers the nostrils. All of these openings are covered with fur or skin for protection from sand and dirt as is burrowing. There is no visible tail, but caudal vertebrae are present. The forelimbs are short and powerful and have 4 claws. The third digit is the largest and, along with the second digit, is used for digging. The first and fourth digits are underdeveloped and basically rudimentary. The hind limbs are short and have five digits that are webbed.

Behaviour
Golden moles are fossorial and construct complex burrow systems that contain side tunnels, chambers, and holes that can be used to escape from predators. The leathery nose pad is used to move light soil, while the head and shoulders push mounds of dirt. The front claws dig and move heavier dirt, and the hind feet push mounds of dirt upward to the ground surface. The feet also stamp the bottom of the burrow and the side of the body presses against the sides of the burrow to smooth them. The burrow is extended by 4 to 12 m every day.

Golden moles are most active at sunrise, sunset, and midnight. Even though they are active for intermittent periods throughout the day, they are most active at night. During the rainy months, when food is more available, activity levels also increase. To save energy, golden moles experience daily torpor in which their body temperature falls to within 2 °C of the soil temperature.

As a solitary animal, golden moles are territorial and aggressive to conspecifics. They forcefully defend their burrows. In less fertile areas, burrow systems are larger and are defended more aggressively.

Article extracted from and more In depth study:
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Amblysomus_hottentotus.html

See mole images:http://www.afrotheria.net/golden_moles/photos.html 
Area map distribution and more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hottentot_golden_mole

 If You find a mole in your garden please take a photo and forward for identification

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General Mole information

Mole, a small insect-eating mammal related to the shrew. It lives in underground burrows.
The mole is covered by soft, velvety fur that ranges in color from gold to dark brown or black. It has tiny eyes and is almost completely blind. Its ears are small and are hidden beneath the fur. Moles are sensitive to underground vibrations but do not hear well above ground.

How Do Moles Get Around in the Dark?
Moles spend almost their entire lives underground. They dig tunnels under the earth and live in them. Their well-developed sense of touch makes up for their poor eyesight. Their sensitive whiskers and body hair help guide moles through the darkness. The tip of a mole’s snout has tiny bumps that feel every object it comes in contact with. Moles also have excellent senses of smell and hearing.

Moles are solitary creatures. They spend most of their time in a network of tunnels. The tunnels, usually less than six inches (15 cm) below the surface, leave ridges of earth, called molehills, above ground. Some species dig a second set of tunnels, up to 18 inches (45 cm) below ground, for nesting. In digging, the mole first loosens the earth with its snout and then thrusts its forefeet forward, pushing the earth out to the sides.

The mole feeds primarily on insects, worms, and vegetation; some species also eat crustaceans, fish, and mice. The mole has such a high metabolic rate that it must eat two or three times its own weight in food each day; it cannot go without food for more than 10 or 12 hours.

What Is a Mole’s Favorite Meal?
Although they eat insects, moles prefer big, juicy earthworms. Moles like them so much that some moles store extra worms away for future meals in special storage chambers. Moles also like to feed on larger animals, such as lizards and mice.

Moles mate in late winter or early spring. The female usually builds a grassy nest in a deep tunnel; however, the females of some species build a grassy nest above ground. Three to seven young are born in early spring. They are independent at three weeks and mature at 10 months. Moles live four to five years.

The mole is considered a nuisance because the ridges and mounds made by its tunneling can ruin the appearance of a lawn or golf course. On the other hand, moles help control harmful insects. Mole skins, which are warm and waterproof, are used to make fur wraps. Hundreds of skins are needed for a single garment. Moleskin is a fabric that resembles the mole's coat.

Why Do Homeowners Dislike Moles?
Moles are expert diggers. And moles love to tunnel through lawns and gardens. They create molehills on the surface as they go. Moles dig some of their tunnels close to the surface where insects and worms can be found. Their digging cuts off root systems of grass and plants. One mole can ruin a lawn, a garden, or a flower bed.

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/mole-info.htm

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