Animal Info - Giant Golden Mole

Chrysospalax trevelyani

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size & Weight, Habitat, Birth Rate, Diet, Behavior)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: A) Giant Golden Mole and B) Grant's Golden Mole (Eremitalpa granti) (60 Kb JPEG) (Univ. Haifa)

Golden moles are an ancient group of mammals who live mostly below ground.  They have shiny coats of dense fur and a streamlined, formless appearance.  They have no visible eyes or ears; in fact, they are blind - the small eyes are covered with hairy skin.  The ears are small and are hidden in the animal's fur.

The giant golden mole is about 20 cm (8") long and weighs up to 538 g (19.2 oz). It lives mainly in larger forest patches, although it sometimes occurs in adjacent grassland habitats. The greatest abundance of the giant golden mole occurs in those forest patches having soft soils, well-developed undergrowth and deep litter layers. The giant golden mole makes numerous hills 40 - 60 cm (16 - 24") in diameter and about 25 cm (10") high in which there are openings to the tunnels below. This species is nocturnal.  It emerges at night from the underground chambers and tunnels it inhabits to forage. 

The giant golden mole is endemic to South Africa. It has been recorded from indigenous Afro-montane forests in the Eastern Cape Province from East London northwards along the coast to Port St. Johns, and inland to Amatola and Kologha Mountains near King Williams Town and Stutterheim. It is locally common but with a clumped distribution. Although recorded from 17 localities, the giant golden mole is possibly locally extinct at many sites, and it appears to survive only in larger patches of forest. It does not occur in commercial forestry plantations which abut, or have replaced, many of the remaining patches of natural habitat. 

Major threats include habitat loss due to fragmentation of forests, which is ongoing in coastal forests as a result of urbanization (East London district) and ubiquitous coastal tourist resorts. Another major threat involves the degradation of remaining forests as a result of forest clearance, collection of firewood, barkstripping, cutting for construction, and livestock ranging into the forest and overgrazing. 


Tidbits

*** As long as it is awake, a golden mole keeps on the move.  This exercise keeps its body temperature normal.  If it stays still too long, its temperature falls quickly.  Sleeping would be hazardous if it weren't for the fact that its muscles twitch while it is asleep. This produces heat to help stabilize its body temperature.

*** The rough-haired and other golden moles have been blamed for damage to crops that was actually caused by rodents, such as mole-rats.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Giant Golden Mole Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in South Africa. (IUCN 2004)

History of Distribution:

The giant golden mole is endemic to South Africa. It has been recorded from indigenous Afro-montane forests in the Eastern Cape Province from East London northwards along the coast to Port St. Johns, and inland to Amatola and Kologha Mountains near King Williams Town and Stutterheim. The giant golden mole is locally common but with a clumped distribution. Although recorded from 17 localities, the giant golden mole is possibly locally extinct at many sites, and it appears to survive only in larger patches of forest. It does not occur in commercial forestry plantations which abut, or have replaced, many of the remaining patches of natural habitat. (IUCN 2006) 

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Major threats include habitat loss due to fragmentation of forests, which is ongoing in coastal forests as a result of urbanization (East London district) and ubiquitous coastal tourist resorts. Another major threat involves the degradation of remaining forests as a result of forest clearance, collection of firewood, barkstripping, cutting for construction, and livestock ranging into the forest and overgrazing. Predation by feral and domestic dogs near human subsistence farming communities and recreational hunting by young boys are also of concern. (IUCN 2006)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size & Weight:

The giant golden mole is about 20 cm (8") long.  It weighs up to 538 g (19.2 oz).

Habitat:

The giant golden mole is apparently restricted to larger forest patches, although it sometimes occurs marginally in adjacent grassland habitats. The greatest abundance of the giant golden mole occurs in those forest patches having soft soils, well-developed undergrowth and deep litter layers. This species avoids steep slopes and rocky terrain. The giant golden mole is not present in commercial forestry plantations, which abut or have replaced many indigenous forest patches. (IUCN 2006)  

The giant golden mole is found in the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005)

Birth Rate:

Usually 2 young are born, sometimes 1.

Diet:

Golden moles eat invertebrates such as insects (e.g. crickets, grasshoppers, locusts and cockroaches), earthworms and snails.

Behavior:

The giant golden mole makes numerous hills 40 - 60 cm (16 - 24") in diameter and about 25 cm (10") high in which there are openings to the tunnels below. The tunnels are up to 13.6 m (44.6') long. (Nowak 1999)  

This species is nocturnal.  It emerges at night from the underground chambers and tunnels it inhabits to forage.  (IUCN 2004)


References

Cons. Intl. 2005, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, Kingdon 1997, Ledger 1999, Nicoll & Rathbun 1990, Nowak 1999, Poduschka 1982, Stuart & Stuart 1996, Univ. Haifa


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Last modified: May 29, 2006;

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