Star-nosed Mole

Star-nosed moles live in waterlogged soil. They dig networks of tunnels in the soil, which generally reach down as far as the water table. They push the mud and soil out of the entrances of the tunnels, making molehills in the process. The moles construct nests at the ends of tunnels, which are lined with dry grass. Their fur is heavy and quite waterproof.

Star-nosed moles have unusual fleshy rays that radiate from each nostril. These are sensitive feelers that the moles use in the darkness below ground. The moles' dark, dense fur is coated with water-repelling oils.

Star-nosed moles are expert swimmers and divers. They search for food at the bottom of streams and pools, using their sensitive snouts to feel their way and detect prey. Although star-nosed moles dig and use tunnel systems, they seldom feed within them. In winter, star-nosed moles use tunnels with underwater entrances to get into ponds that are iced over. They feed in water both in the daytime and at night, but they are only really active above ground during the hours of darkness.

Most births take place in early summer. The young already have the star of rays on their snouts. Breeding pairs of males and females may stay together throughout the winter and breed again the following year. The young are born with well-developed nostril tentacles.

Distribution: Eastern Canada to south-eastern United States.

Habitat: Muddy soil near water.

Food: Aquatic insects, fish, worms and crustaceans.

Size: 10 - 12 cm (4 - 5 in); 40 - 85 g (1.5 - 3 oz).

Maturity: 10 months.

Breeding: 2 - 7 young born in summer.

Life span: Unknown.

Status: Endangered.