As its name implies, this species is characterized by its almost bushy tail. Otherwise it is similar to other moles in habits and appearance.
The hairy-tailed mole ranges from southern Quebec and Ontario to central Ohio and western North Carolina. It lives in open woodland and meadows. In the south of its range, it occurs at high altitudes in the Appalachian Mountains, which have a colder and wetter climate than lowland areas.
The hairy-tailed mole differs from other mole species by having a much shorter snout and a hairy tail. It also lacks the protuberances on the snout used by many species to detect the movements of prey.
Hairy-tailed moles are most active during the day, when they tunnel under the ground in search of food. They may also move around at night, sometimes emerging from their tunnels to forage on the surface. In winter, each mole occupies its own network of tunnels and will close up any links with the tunnels of other moles. However, during summer the males, females and young all share a network of tunnels. Hairy-tailed moles dig extensive tunnels at two levels: an upper level just beneath the surface, used in warm weather, and a lower tunnel, used as a winter retreat.
Having mated in the spring breeding season, the female builds an underground nest out of a ball of dry vegetation approximately 25 cm (10 in) below the surface. The hairy-tailed moles mate in early April. Gestation is about four to six weeks. The newborn young remain in the nest for up to a month, by which time they have been weaned on to solid food.
The eastern mole, Scalopus aquaticus also a North American species, closely resembles the hairy-tailed, but has a nearly naked tail.
Distribution: Eastern Canada to the Appalachians.
Habitat: Forests and meadows.
Food: Insects and worms.
Size: 11.5 - 14 cm (4.5 - 5.5 in); 40 - 85 g (1.5 - 3 oz).
Maturity: 10 months.
Breeding: One litter of 4 - 5 young produced in summer.
Life span: 3 years.