Grant’s golden moles dwell in one of the driest and least productive habitats in the world. They are confined to white coastal sand dunes and does not range far inland due to the firmer, more consolidated soil. In Namaqualand they are found on coastal dunes with loose sand and karoo, while in the Namib desert it prefers dunes with scattered clumps of dune grass, Aristida sabulicola, and dry river beds with Acacia stands. (Insectivore Specialist Group, 1996; Mills and Hes, 1997; Nowak, 1999; Roberts, 1951; Seymour, et al., 1998; Smithers, 1983)
- Terrestrial Biomes
- desert or dune
Chrysocholoridae, with a head and body length and mass ranging from 70 to 85 mm and 16 to 32 g, respectively. There is a degree of sexual dimorphism, with males averaging 73.5 mm and 25.3 g, and females averaging 66.8 mm and 19.8 g. Grant’s golden moles are fusiform, but dorsoventrally flattened, and they lack an external tail. Their fur is softer and generally longer than any other golden mole, although its length may vary seasonally. Hairs on the back generally measure 12 mm and are pale grayish-yellow with a silvery sheen. Hairs on the side are about 20 mm and are paler with a stronger yellow tinge in comparison to the upper hairs. The face and underside are paler to buffy white. Subadults may have a more gray coat and possess pale cheek markings. has short and strong limbs that are medially situated beneath the body. Its foreclaws on the first, second, and third digits are extremely broad, long, and hollowed out underneath – an adaptation for digging. It is the only golden mole that possesses a well-developed fourth claw. Its hind feet are webbed and have a prominent thickened pad placed slightly in front of the heel that is not found in other species. Grant’s desert golden moles lack external eyes, the eyelids fusing at a young age with the skin covering the eyes then increasing in thickness. Their noses terminate in a hard leathery pad which aids in digging while at the same time keeps sand out of the nostrils. The skull of is distinguishable from Chrysochloris asiatica in that it is smaller, broader, has no temporal bullae, and its first premolar is single-rooted. Its skull length is less than 20.6 mm, its width ranges from 16.0 to 18.2 mm, and its dental formula is 3/3, 1/1, 3/3, 3/3.is the smallest of all members in the family
Subspecies are generally distinguished by body size, skull dimensions, and hair length. Eremitalpa granti namibensis is often slightly smaller in size with shorter, more colored hair, and a shorter and broader skull than Eremitalpa granti granti. (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2003; Mills and Hes, 1997; Nowak, 1999; Perrin and Fielden, 1999; Roberts, 1951; Shackleton and Harestad, 2003; Smithers, 1983; Stuart, 1995)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- male larger
- Range mass
- 16 to 32 g
- 0.56 to 1.13 oz
- Range length
- 70 to 85 mm
- 2.76 to 3.35 in
- Mating System
Meager reproductive records exist forand authorities disagree on certain aspects such as nest sites/chambers.
Breeding is believed to occur in October and November. The gestation period is not known specifically for (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2003; Fielden, 1991; ; Mills and Hes, 1997; Nowak, 1999; Perrin and Fielden, 1999; Shackleton and Harestad, 2003; Smithers, 1983; Stuart, 1995), but for golden moles in general, it is believed to be 4 to 6 weeks. The sand inhabits is too loose for the construction of nesting chambers common to other moles. Thus, it is debated as to where gives birth to and raises young. Grant’s desert golden moles burrow down to depths of 50 cm where they rest during the day. Some authorities speculate they give birth in these resting burrows. However, Fielden (1991), reported the excavation of more than 100 rest sites in which no evidence of nest material, permanent burrows, chambers, or tunnel construction was found. is believed to give birth to one to two naked, virtually helpless young. In general, golden moles are believed to wean their young after 2 to 3 months at which time the young are forced to fend for themselves.
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding season
- October and November
- Range number of offspring
- 1 to 2
- Range gestation period
- 4? to 6? weeks
- Range weaning age
- 2? to 3? months
- Range time to independence
- 2? to 3? months
Very little is known. It is presumed that the mother provides young with food while they mature. For golden moles in general, it is believed that the mother alone rears the young and suckles them for 2 to 3 months. One source suggests that the young of (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2003; Mills and Hes, 1997; Shackleton and Harestad, 2003; Smithers, 1983)are evicted from mother's area when they weigh approximately 35 to 45 g.
- Parental Investment
(British Broadcasting Corporation, 2003; Cowley, 2004; Insectivore Specialist Group, 1996; Mason and Narins, 2002; Mills and Hes, 1997; Nowak, 1999; Perrin and Fielden, 1999; Seymour, et al., 1998; Smithers, 1983)is solitary and considered nocturnal. It does not maintain a permanent tunnel system like most moles because the sand it burrows through collapses behind it. Therefore, it is considered by many to be a sand swimmer, constructing new burrows each time it moves. During the day, burrows to depths of 50 cm and there enters a daily torpor. In these "rest sites," does not regulate its body, but lowers its metabolism, thus reducing its energy demands. Due to the high energy demands of burrowing in an energy poor environment, this proves to be a vital adaptation. Foraging occurs at night on the surface. Grant's desert golden moles' foraging behavior consists of running on the surface of dunes and periodically dipping underneath the surface using its seismic sensitivity to detect the location of prey. Some individuals have been known to travel up to 5800 m while foraging.
Communication and Perception
has extremely sensitive hearing and vibration detection. Morphological analysis of the middle ear has revealed a massive malleus which likely enables to detect seismic cues. uses this seismic sensitivity to detect prey as well as to navigate when burrowing through sand. While vibrations are used over long distances to detect prey, smell is possibly used over shorter distances.
Psammotermes allocercus, constitute the majority of its diet. Other invertebrates it consumes are crickets, beetles, ants, moths, spiders, and mealybugs. also eats the web-footed gecko, Pelmatogecko rangei, and legless lizards. (Cowley, 2004; Fielden, et al., 1990; ; Mills and Hes, 1997; Nowak, 1999; Perrin and Fielden, 1999; Shackleton and Harestad, 2003; Stuart, 1995)feeds mainly on sand dwelling invertebrates. Termites,
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial non-insect arthropods
Grant’s desert golden mole plays an important role in controlling desert invertebrate and insect populations. The control of herbaceous insects is particularly helpful for the dune grass Aristida sabulicola. Specifically, termite populations are directly affected by the foraging of (Cowley, 2004; Fielden, et al., 1990; ; Mills and Hes, 1997)in that termites constitute more than 50% of the mole’s diet. also is an important food source for birds of prey and biodegrading invertebrates. Lastly, the disturbing of the soil via burrowing may prove beneficial for certain reptiles and invertebrates.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
is currently listed as vulnerable according to IUCN criteria. Its greatest threat is habitat destruction and fragmentation by dune removal and diamond mining. They are also preyed upon by domestic cats and dogs.
Grant’s golden moles, Eremitalpa granti granti, and Namib golden moles, Eremitalpa granti namibensis. This report follows authorities that refer more broadly to both subspecies as , though at times some distinguishing information may be provided for each subspecies., is commonly referred to as , or . Some authorities recognize two subspecies of Eremitalpa granti:
Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Jason Roth (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
- 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.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
- desert or dunes
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
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.
union of egg and spermatozoan
Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior, specialized for digging or burrowing.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
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.
active during the night
having more than one female as a mate at one time
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
British Broadcasting Corporation, 2003. "Grant's golden mole" (On-line). BBC - Science & Nature. Accessed March 17, 2004 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/print/641.shtml.
Cowley, C. 2004. "Mammals and Reptiles" (On-line). Clive Cowley's Journey into Namibia. Accessed March 17, 2004 at http://www.orusvo.com/guidebook/content8.htm.
Fielden, L. 1991. Home range and movements of the Namib Desert golden mole Eremitalpa granti namibensis (Chrysochloridae).. Journal of Zoology, 223: 675-686.
Fielden, L., M. Perrin, G. Hickman. 1990. Feeding ecology and foraging behaviour of the Namib Desert golden mole, Eremitalpa granti namibensis (Chrysochloridae).. Journal of Zoology, 220: 367-389.
Insectivore Specialist Group, 1996. "Species Information" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed March 14, 2004 at http://www.redlist.org/search/details.php?species=7994.
Macdonald, D. 2001. Golden Moles. Pp. 748-749 in G Bateman, T Allan, M Salad, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Oxford University Press.
Mason, M., P. Narins. 2002. Seismic Sensitivity in the Desert Golden Mole (Eremitalpa granti).. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 116/2: 158-163.
Mills, G., L. Hes. 1997. The Complete Book of Southern African Mammals. Cape Town 8001: Struik Publishers.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Perrin, M., L. Fielden. 1999. Eremitalpa granti. Mammalian Species, 629: 1-4.
Roberts, A. 1951. The Mammals of South Africa. New York: The Trustees of "The Mammals of South Africa" Book Fund. Hafner Publishing Company.
Seymour, R., P. Withers, W. Weathers. 1998. Energetics of burrowing, running, and free-living in the Namib Desert golden mole (Eremitalpa namibensis). Journal of Zoology, 244/1: 107-117.
Shackleton, D., A. Harestad. 2003. Golden Moles (Chrysochloridae). Pp. 215-223 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
Smithers, R. 1983. The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Pretoria, Transvaal, Republic of South Africa: University of Pretoria.
Stuart, C. 1995. Chris and Tilde Stuart's Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa. Cape Town 8001: Struik Publishers (Pty) Ltd.