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Star Nosed Mole - the fastest eating mammal?
Correct Trivia Answer: A
A study published in the journal Nature reveals that this mysterious mole has moves that put the best magician to shame: The energetic burrower can detect small prey animals and gulp them down with a speed that is literally too fast for the human eye to follow. The Guinness Book of Records identifies this amazing mole as the world’s fastest forager, and also with the ability to “sniff out” food under water.
The star-nosed mole has a rose-colored ring of fleshy, retractable tentacles surrounding its nose. The nose has 11 projections on each side. Equally distinct is the scaly, fleshy tail that is covered with concentric rings and short, coarse hairs. Constricted at the base, tapered at the tip, and during the winter swollen in size, when it serves as a fat storage organ. The limbs are short, and the front feet are paddle-like with long, stout claws. An average sized star-nosed mole is 7.6 inches in length and weighs 1.8 oz.
The star-nosed mole prefers damp to saturated soils, and often lives in the organic muck adjacent to water. Grassy meadows, marshes, swamps, and deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests are where it resides.
The tunnels of this species are 1.2-2.4 inches in diameter and extend from just below the surface of the ground to a depth of 2-feet. Individuals living in wet soils burrow above and below the water table, and moles near water usually have tunnels that open at, or below, the water surface. Enlarged, dry sections of the tunnels serve as sites for resting and brood-rearing nests, which the moles build by collecting dry leaves or grass.
This mole pushes its way through the surface layers of soil to catch invertebrates such as beetle larvae and earthworms. However, star-nosed moles living near water acquire only 12-25 percent of their food in this fashion, taking the rest underwater. Aquatic insects form the bulk of their diet with mollusks, crustacea, small amphibians and fish making up the remainder. They readily enter water, even swimming beneath the ice, foraging by probing bottom sediments with their fleshy tentacles which are laden with touch receptors. Frequent trips to the surface, or air pockets for air, alternate with dives that last about 10 seconds.
Like other moles, it digs with the broad front feet while the hind feet push against the sides, stopping periodically to shove the loose soil to the surface where it creates a mound 1-2 feet wide and 6-9 inches deep.
Raptors, including screech, great horned, long-eared, barred, barn owls, and red-tailed hawks; mammals such as striped skunks, weasels, minks, and foxes; and fish such as the northern pike prey on this mammal.
How these mammals interact remains a mystery. For assistance with mole problems in your yard, contact the professionals at Critter Control.
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