Yesterday I had the utterly delightful experience of photographing a shrew-mole.
|The first evidence that a mole had been at work.|
|A closeup of one of the little channels it had dug.|
|The mole moving through one of its trails in the grass.|
|The velvety soft fur on the mole's back.|
|A pink mole nose sticking up out of the moss!|
|That's the mole's tail on the right with displaced|
dirt from the hole it was digging on the left.
|A hind paw.|
|A glimpse of the long nails on the mole's hind paw.|
The photographs aren't perfect because that little bugger is FAST. While its back was often visible, it seldom stuck its little nose out and it moved that long and flexible snout so quickly that it was hard to catch it when it did break the surface. That is why there are considerably more photographs of the mole's hind end than the front! Still, I was delighted to have had this opportunity at all. I've seen a mole at work before in the sense that while looking out the window, I've seen a mole hill increasing in size, but they don't often come above ground! Why it was willing to expose itself for several hours is beyond me (I suspect that the food payoff must have been worth it), but there is no other wild animal that would have tolerated me sitting there at such close quarters. Moles may not have much in the way of vision, but they have keen hearing, so I have to assume it was aware I was there, especially since I poked it occasionally! Anyone who has followed this blog at all knows that I love animals, so it was thrilling to have an opportunity to watch a seldom-seen critter at work and to be able to take photos of it, too, was incredible.
|I caught that fast-moving little pink snout in the act of intercepting a tasty grub snack!|
|Mole face! |
I was so excited to see that this picture turned out as well as it did because the mole
did the neatest little flip turn in its tunnel immediately after I snapped this shot!
|Another glimpse of the mole's face, captured the second time I went out!|
|Digging back into the dirt.|
|New mole handiwork near the backyard fence.|
|Mole hole, but, alas, no mole.|
I just did a little research and what I saw was an American shrew-mole, the smallest type of mole found in North America. They usually measure less than four inches long and weigh only .35 ounces! Unlike eastern moles, shrew moles often forage above ground, so the behavior I saw was typical for the tiny little worm and insect eaters. Some argue that shrew-moles are not true moles, but rather a species that is an intermediary link between shrews and moles. Other fun mole facts: A group of moles is known as a "labour." Mole saliva contains a toxin that paralyzes earthworms, allowing moles to store multiple live worms in larders for later consumption. Moles squeeze out the dirt in earthworms before they eat them. The American shrew-mole is the only shrew-mole found in North America (the others are found in Asia) and it is only found in the Pacific Northwest. I have most definitely learned a lot about moles, thanks to our little lawn disrupter!