Star Nosed Mole: Marvel of North America’s Wetlands

The little, wet, low-lying Condylura cristata mole is found in the northern regions of North America. Star Nosed Mole uses its touch organ, which has more than 25,000-minute sensory receptors—a touch organ known as Eimer’s organs—to navigate around the tribe more than any other member. It might be in an ideal position to sense seismic wave vibrations thanks to its Eimer’s organs.

Star Nosed Mole Appearance

The black-furred Star Nosed Mole has broad forefeet that are capped with claws that are meant for digging, making it a particularly unique mammal. Their black and pinkish feet face outward at the palms. They have a lengthy, hairy tail. On the tip of the snout from which they get their name, there are eleven pairs of tiny pink tentacles spread out like stars.

The nose has 22 appendages that house the Eimer’s organs, and its diameter is around 1 cm (0.4 in). The Star Nosed Mole’s nose was long thought to be utilized to detect electrical activity in prey animals due to its functional blindness, however, there hasn’t been much, if any, actual evidence to support this theory. This species appears to have evolved its nasal star and dentition primarily to take advantage of very small prey.

Distribution

Native to the eastern United States and southeastern Canada, the Star Nosed Mole is a native of these regions. From the Atlantic Ocean to North Dakota, Manitoba, and Virginia, as well as south to Ohio, is its range. Also, it can be found throughout the Appalachian Mountains and on the Atlantic coast, extending south to Georgia.

Numerous environments with damp soil are home to this species. These animals are more likely to be found in places with poor drainage, like peatlands, clearings, marshes, and forests with mixed mixed trees.

In search of food, they will often occupy the banks of streams, lakes, and ponds. These moles are known to favor moist environments, however, they have also been observed in dry meadows up to 400 meters (0.25 miles) from water.

Habits and Lifestyle

Star Nosed Moles are nocturnal creatures that are active all year round. They dig both deeper and shallow underground tunnel networks, preferring to tunnel through swampy, damp regions. Nests are constructed on higher, drier ground. This species is semiaquatic, and their tunnels can occasionally open up right into the water.

They have good swimming abilities and can dive for a few seconds, occasionally staying below for more than half a minute. Because the damp ground is likely to be frozen throughout the winter, Star Nosed Moles hunt more in the water.

They can even swim under ice. Their visits above the earth in quest of food typically occur at night. How they communicate with one another is a mystery. While adults emit wheezing sounds, young Star Nosed Moles make high-pitched noises.

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Diet and Nutrition

Star Nosed Moles are carnivores, also known as vermivores; they primarily consume invertebrates, though they occasionally consume small fish, mollusks, terrestrial insects, and aquatic crustaceans.

Mating Habits

It seems that the Star Nosed Mole is serially monogamous, with partners sticking together for a single breeding season. It appears that males and females team up in the fall and remain together for the mating season, which spans March and April. Approximately 45 days pass during gestation, and the young are born between late April and mid-June.

A female gives birth to one litter of two to seven children annually, the average litter size being five. At birth, the babies are hairless. After about two weeks, their ears, eyes, and star are all working. At 30 days old, they are autonomous, and at 10 months old, they are ready for reproduction.

Population

Population threats: The Star Nosed Mole is not in grave danger. However, because it needs on wetlands to survive, this species may be impacted in the future by the continued destruction of natural regions to accommodate an increasing human population.

Population number: The IUCN reports that although the Star Nosed Mole is ubiquitous and widely distributed throughout its range, an estimate of its total population is unknown. This species is currently listed as Least Concern (LC), and its population is stable.

Ecological Niche

The Star Nosed Mole is a key component of many wetland ecosystems, feeding a variety of aquatic invertebrates and serving as a food source for some carnivores. It gives plants’ roots aeration as it tunnels through the wet ground, releasing roots that could otherwise be stuck in anoxic soil.

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