Mole

Cape Golden Mole.


Name

Cape Golden Mole (Chrysochloris asiatica)

Appearance

The Cape Golden Mole are small, blind, insectivorous mammals, and not remotely related to rodent moles. The minute eyes are overgrown with skin and can only distinguish between light and dark. The long clawed toes of the fore-legs are used as burrowing instruments. They normally burrow just bellow the sand surface, leaving a distinctive humped trail. Measures 100-120 mm and weighs up to 50gr. Males are larger than females. They have a soft, dense, silky coat. Coat colour blackish to slaty-grey and dark brown to pale fawn, always with a pronounced sheen of bronze, green or violet. Chin, forelimbs and throat a light buffy-brown. First and fifth claws of the forefeet are reduced, whereas the other three are 10mm long and 3mm wide.

Breeding

The wet Cape winter months (April to August) are their main breeding time. Litter size is usually two, measuring 40mm at birth. Young are born almost hairless, and are suckled by their mothers until almost mature.

Behaviour

In their hunt for earthworms and other subterranean insect prey, they use their smooth leathery snouts to push the soil upwards, which is then moved backwards with the claws of the front feet. The Cape Golden Mole is solitary. Each adult maintains its own tunnel system.

Habitat

Golden Moles occur only in SubSaharan Africa, and nowhere else in the world. The Cape Golden Mole is found in the southwestern Cape from the Cape peninsular region extending up the Namaqualand coastal plains to Port Nolloth. The westerly distribution extends inland to the western fold mountains, but does not occur in the Karoo. The Cape Golden Mole inexplicably also occurs on Robben Island.

Field Notes

There is a debate as to how the Cape Golden Moles observed on Robben Island actually got to the island. Theories include individuals been carried across in loads of building sand and escaping once on the other side, but no clear theory has been accepted.



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