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Rarely seen creatures of Africa – The Golden mole

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Namibian Golden mole.
There are 21 different species of these unusual and cute animals, known as Golden moles, all of which are found in sub-Sahara Africa. Some species have only been found in three locations of South Africa including the Kruger National Park. They go unnoticed, unseen and unheard, hiding below the soil of parts of Africa.

Golden moles are 8 to 24cm in size, males being slightly larger than females. Their soft and silky coats are blackish in colour to a grey tint or a pale golden to dark brown colour.

These creatures do not have eyes or ears on the outside of their small bodies as these features have been covered by skin. They have a leather-like pad over their nose to protect their nostrils while pushing through soft soil. Their major sense is touch making them highly sensitive to vibrations on the ground alerting them to danger or prey nearby.  

Congo Golden mole.
They have short legs with claws used to sometimes dig up dirt when burrowing through their tunnels. On their front limbs they have a big third claw handy for digging and on their hind feet they have all five webbed toes to shovel the soil just dug up by their front claws. However they are known to more likely through push through soil with their protected noses.

Habitat

These strange animals live underground, beneath African soil in grasslands, forest areas, deserts and mountainous landscape where the sand is soft.

They make a burrow system of tunnels to call their home, pushing soil up to the surface or compacted into the walls of their tunnels.
Hottentot Golden mole. 
Behaviour

Adult Golden moles prefer to be alone and defend their home of many tunnels rather aggressively from others.

When the harsh African sun is beating down, Golden moles will hideaway in their burrows, going into a state similar to hibernation, to preserve their energy. This is known as a state of torpor where they switch off their thermoregulation.
Diet

Cape Golden mole.

They prefer to hunt at night time for small insects such as earthworms, snails, beetle larvae or grasshoppers leaving small ridges on the surface of soil while searching for their prey. 

These small animals have a big appetite once they have woken up from their daily hibernation.

Reproduction

Golden moles do breed throughout the year although their main breeding period are the winter months of April to August. 

Female golden moles give birth to one to three hairless offspring, usually a pair of twins, in a nest made out of grass in their burrow. Their young is 40mm in size when born!
Did you know?

Despite their name, they aren’t really moles but are more closely related to elephants and manatees.

These particular species of moles date back to 40 million years ago according to fossils found. 

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