Chrysospalax villosusrough-haired golden mole

Geographic Range

Rough-haired golden moles are found in different regions scattered throughout South Africa. They have been recorded in the eastern most provinces of the country; the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng, and Mpumalanga. (Bronner, 2013; "Chrysospalax villosus", 2013; Jackson, et al., 2009; Nowak, 1999; Skinner, 2005)


Rough-haired golden moles can only survive in a narrow niche. They live in densely vegetated grasslands, meadows, and edges of marshes. They live in light, sandy soil, and are not found in heavy soils, such as mud or clay. Some rough-haired golden moles have been recorded around the edges of golf courses and suburban gardens. (Bronner, 2013; "Chrysospalax villosus", 2013; Skinner, 2005)

Physical Description

Rough-haired golden moles are the second largest golden moles, with only giant golden moles (Chrysospalax trevelyani) being larger. They are 125 to 175 mm long. Males weigh 108 to 160 grams, and females weigh slightly less, averaging 90 to 140 grams. As the name implies, rough-haired golden moles have extremely coarse hair. Their color may range from yellow to gray-brown or dark gray. The ventral hair is lighter in color than the dorsal hair. The dorsal guard coat hairs can be up to 21 mm long. The undercoat is dense and is dark gray. They have four digits on their forelimbs. The third digit has the longest claw that is 15 to 17 mm long. Digits one and two have smaller claws and digit four is reduced to 1.5 mm. Rough-haired golden moles and giant golden moles both have more slender claws than other golden moles. There is a membranous skin between the digits to aid in pushing soil. No species of golden mole has a tail. They have no external ears, just an opening, and their eyes are covered by skin and fur. They also had a horny pad on their noses used for turning up soil in foraging. (Bronner, 2013; "Chrysospalax villosus", 2013; Nowak, 1999; Skinner, 2005)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    93 to 160 g
    3.28 to 5.64 oz
  • Range length
    127 to 175 mm
    5.00 to 6.89 in


Information about the mating systems or rituals of rough-haired golden moles is not known at this time. However, congeneric giant golden moles have a mating ritual in which males chirp and bob their heads at females. (Zeimet, 2007)

Little is known about reproduction in rough-haired golden moles. It is thought that they breed in winter, as do most other golden moles. Only one pregnant female has been recorded, she was carrying two young. (Bronner, 2013; Jackson, et al., 2009; Nowak, 1999; Skinner, 2005)

  • Breeding season
    Rough-haired golden moles seem to breed in winter.
  • Average number of offspring

Though information about parental care of young before independence is not known, female rough-haired golden moles have two sets of mammae and nurse and nurture their young, as do other mammals. (Skinner, 2005)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female


There is no information in the literature about the lifespan of rough-haired golden moles. ("Chrysospalax villosus", 2013)


Rough-haired golden moles spend most of their time underground in burrows. They rest in chambers and passages that are accessible by tunnels. Tunnels are either made by the moles themselves or by fossorial rodents and then adopted by moles. Tunnels are 30 to 70 cm long and have two entrances. The construction of multiple entrances is thought to help with protection. If the animals are alarmed they have multiple routes to safety. Rough-haired golden moles only come out of their borrows at night and after rain to forage. (Bronner, 2013; Nowak, 1999; Skinner, 2005)

Home Range

Information about the home range size of rough-haired golden moles is not available.

Communication and Perception

Rough-haired golden moles are known for their incredible sense of orientation and direction. When they feel threatened, they can quickly and easily find the entrance to their burrows, despite being blind. They are extremely sensitive to surface disturbances, which helps them sense danger and locate food. The physiology behind these senses has not yet been studied. Since rough-haired golden moles are blind, they probably use their other senses to communicate with one another. (Bronner, 2013; Skinner, 2005)

Food Habits

Rough-haired golden moles are insectivores. They forage above ground at night after rainfall. They use their noses to turn up soil to look for termites and earthworms. It has been proposed that they also forage underground in their burrows during long droughts. (Bronner, 2013; Nowak, 1999; Skinner, 2005)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods


It is likely that rough-haired golden moles are prey for larger carnivorous mammals and snakes. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

By eating earthworms, mites, and insects, rough haired golden moles are a valuable predator in their ecosystems. They also share with and use tunnels dug by blesmols (Georychus capensis). One ectoparasitic species was also recorded on rough-haired golden moles in the 1940's. (Bronner, 2013; Nowak, 1999)

Mutualist Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Rough haired golden moles help control insect pest populations by feeding on them. (Bronner, 2013; Nowak, 1999; Skinner, 2005)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Rough-haired golden moles have been found on golf courses and in suburban gardens. They have been blamed for destroying crops and gardens through their burrowing activities. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Rough-haired golden moles are threatened by urbanization, mining, and agricultural practices. They are losing their habitat due to these industrial practices as well as overgrazing by agricultural animals. ("Chrysospalax villosus", 2013)


Terra Carter (author), University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

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


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


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

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


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

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


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.

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.


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.


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.


International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 2013. "Chrysospalax villosus" (On-line). INCU Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed April 18, 2014 at

Bronner, G. 2013. Chyrsospalax villosus. Pp. 246-250 in J Kingdon, D Happold, H Micheal, M Butynski, M Happold, J Kalina, eds. Mammals of Africa, Vol. 1, 1 Edition. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Jackson, C., T. Setsaas, M. Robertson, M. Scantlebury, N. Bennett. 2009. Insights into torpor and behavioral thermoregulation of the endangered Juliana's golden mole. Journal of Zoology, 278: 299-307.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World Sixth Edition. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: The John Hopkins University Press.

Skinner, J. 2005. The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Zeimet, R. 2007. "Chrysospalax trevelyani" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 30, 2014 at