Chlorotalpa sclateriSclater's golden mole

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Geographic Range

Sclater's Golden Moles are found scattered around areas in Lesotho and South Africa. They range from Cape Province northeast towards southeastern Transvaal and to the eastern Orange Free State

(Massicot 2000).

Habitat

Sclater's Golden Moles live in the dry sandy soils found in parts of South Africa and Lesothos. They can be found most often near rocky hillsides (Massicot 2000).

Physical Description

Sclater's Golden Moles range in size from 80 to 110 mm in length. Their golden, fur-covered bodies have special morphological features to aid in digging; wedged shaped skulls, short strong necks, robust shoulders, and forelimbs with large claws (Kingdon 1974). The pelage is glossy brown with a reddish tinge on the sides, the ventral pelage is gray. Sclater's Golden Moles have a claw on their third, front digit which measures about 9 mm. They weigh from 40 to 75 grams (Nowak, 1991; Massicot, 2000).

Since most of their time is spent underground, these mammals are blind. They have eyes that are covered by fur and very small ears that are also hidden in fur. Males and females are similar but males tend to weigh more.

  • Range mass
    40 to 70 g
    1.41 to 2.47 oz

Reproduction

Sclater's Golden Moles breed one or two times a year and have one or two young per litter. Both males and females urinate and mate using one opening called a cloaca, not two, as in most mammals (Ciszek 1997). The primary mating season is in the spring and summer.

The young are born without fur in a leaf and grass-lined nest in a burrow where they nurse for two to three months. After three months they are slowly weaned off their mother's milk and eventually go off on their own. Scent glands are used for communication between moles, especially between mothers and their offspring and between sexes during the mating season (Kingdon 1974).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual

Behavior

Sclater's Golden Moles must constantly move around in the tunnels that they dig in order to stabilize their body temperature. If they remain motionless for too long their body temperature drops. As a result, they are active both day and night. When they sleep they keep their body temperature elevated through involuntary twitching of their muscles (Massicot 2000).

When these solitary moles are awake they are normally found digging. They dig by butting their heads up and down as they dig with their fore claws. Once the dirt is dug up, the hind legs which are not as strong, push the dirt out of the tunnel.

The ground where Sclater's Golden Mole lives is filled with systems of tunnels that they make. Some tunnels are visible on the surface of the ground in what looks like a ruffle effect.

These tunnels are much easier to dig than those that are dug farther down where the soil is harder and more energy is needed to dig. When on land, these moles walk with a quadrupedal shuffle that can be fast when needed to escape predators (Kingdon 1974).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Sclater's Golden Moles are insectivores that feed on invertebrates such as crickets, grasshoppers, snails, and earthworms. These prey are abundant in the earth where the moles spend most of their time. They are blind and find their prey through smell and touch. Once they catch their prey, worms are usually swallowed while insects are chewed (Kingdon 1974).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

These moles eat insects and snails, they help keep the number of pests down. This helps the vegetation in this sometimes harsh sandy area to flourish. They also aid farmers by keeping insect populations under control (Massicot 2000).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

They do not adversely affect humans.

Conservation Status

Sclater's Golden Moles are vulnerable to extinction because their habitat is being destroyed by land clearance for agriculture and erosion (Massicott 2000). In agricultural areas they are frequently dug up accidentally by farmers working on the land (Kingdon 1974).

Contributors

Angela Bierhuizen (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

threatened

The term is used in the 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as Endangered (E), Vulnerable (V), Rare (R), Indeterminate (I), or Insufficiently Known (K) and in the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), or Vulnerable (VU).

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Ciszek, D., P. Myers. 1997. "Chrysochloridae" (On-line). Accessed April 8, 2001 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/chordata/mammalia/insectivora/chrysochloridae.html.

Kingdon, J. 1974. East African Mammals. London: The University of Chicago Press.

Massicot, P. 2000. "Sclater's Golden Mole" (On-line). Accessed March 22, 2001 at http://www.animalinfo.org/species/chloscla.htm.

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.