Animal Info - Rough-haired Golden Mole

Chrysospalax villosus

Status: Vulnerable


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 (Weight, Habitat, Birth Rate, Diet, Behavior)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: A) Related Species - Giant Golden Mole (Chrysospalax trevelyani) and B) Grant's Golden Mole (Eremitalpa granti) (62 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 rough-haired golden mole weighs 108 - 142 g (3.9 - 5.1 oz). The rough-haired golden mole occurs in sandy soils in grasslands, meadows and along the edges of marshes. It has also been recorded from gardens and parklands. Golden moles eat invertebrates such as insects, earthworms and snails. The rough-haired golden mole sometimes feeds above ground, and, when it does, it roots about like a pig in search of worms and insects. The rough-haired and giant golden moles live in chambers and passages in mounds reached by a system of tunnels made in part by the golden moles and in part by mole-rats.

The rough-haired golden mole is found in Eastern Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and South Mpumalanga, South Africa. While its area of occurrence may appear large, the rough-haired golden mole is only known to occur in 10 isolated areas. Only three specimens were collected in the period 1980 - 2003. There are no data that would allow the determination of its population size. Major threats include habitat alteration as a result of mining shallow coal deposits for power generation, ecologically-poor agricultural practices, and urbanization. 


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.

*** It is called the "rough-haired" golden mole because it and the other species in its genus, the giant golden mole, have fur that is harsher in texture than that of the other golden moles.

*** The rough-haired golden mole has a remarkable sense of direction in regard to the exact location of its burrow; when threatened, it dashes rapidly and surely for the entrance (Nowak 1999).

*** 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 Rough-haired Golden Mole Is Currently Found:

2006: Occurs in South Africa. (IUCN 2006)

History of Distribution:

The rough-haired golden mole is found in Eastern Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and South Mpumalanga, South Africa. While its area of occurrence may appear large, the rough-haired golden mole is only known to occur in 10 isolated areas that contain the specific habitat it requires. Only three specimens were collected in the period 1980 - 2003. There are no data that would allow the determination of its population size. (IUCN 2006)  

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Major threats to the rough-haired golden mole include habitat alteration as a result of mining shallow coal deposits for power generation, ecologically-poor agricultural practices, and urbanization. The widespread practice of allowing cattle to graze in marshes and dense grasslands near water during dry winter months leads to trampling and a loss of cover needed by the rough-haired golden mole. Some areas in which it formerly occurred have been completely transformed by urbanization. (IUCN 2006)  


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The rough-haired golden mole weighs 108 - 142 g (3.9 - 5.1 oz).

Habitat:

The rough-haired golden mole occurs in sandy soils in grasslands, meadows and along the edges of marshes. It has also been recorded from gardens and parklands. (IUCN 2006)  

The rough-haired 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 rough-haired golden mole sometimes feeds above ground, and, when it does, it roots about like a pig in search of worms and insects. It walks at night to foraging sites that are recognizable by the disturbed soil where these golden moles have rooted for insects with their horny nose pads (Ledger 1999).

The rough-haired and giant golden moles live in chambers and passages in mounds reached by a system of tunnels made in part by the golden moles and in part by mole-rats (Nowak 1999).


References

Cons. Intl. 2005, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, Kingdon 1997, Ledger 1999, Nicoll & Rathbun 1990, Nowak 1999, Stuart & Stuart 1996, Univ. Haifa, Wilson & Reeder 1993


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Last modified: June 3, 2006;

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