Talpa europaea

Taxidermy specimen of a mole mounted in a perspex case.

Moles eat small invertebrates such as insects and worms which they find in the soil. Moles find their food in their burrows. They have a toxin (poison) in their saliva which can paralyze earthworms. In this way the mole can store earthworms, which stay fresh and alive, but cannot escape. Moles live solitary lives except in the breeding season when the male looks for the tunnel of a female. After mating the male leaves the female who raises the young alone. The female is pregnant for 3 weeks and about 4 babies are born in the spring. The young moles are born naked in a special nest chamber. They grow rapidly suckling their mother’s milk and after two weeks are covered in fur. When they are a month old they leave home to fend for themselves.Moles live in an underground tunnel system, which they regularly extend. Their bodies are cylindrical, about 12cms long, and covered with dense short fur which also covers their tiny eyes. Moles spend almost all the time in the dark so eyesight is not important. They rely instead on their sense of smell; but mostly on their very sensitive and acute sense of touch. They are very sensitive to vibrations carried through the ground.
Their teeth are all sharp and well suited to grabbing hold of insects and worms.
A mole’s front paws are like shovels or excavators. They also have a ‘reverse gear’ so that they can go backwards down their tunnels.

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