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Howell's eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus howelli)

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

Howell's eastern mole is a subspecies of the widespread eastern mole and is very similar to it in appearance. The total length in mm (male/female) is 180-185/154-155. The tail is short, round, scantily haired and less than one-fourth of the total length. The nose is elongated into a distinct snout. The eyes are small with no external opening and external ears are lacking. The feet are large and fleshy, with the forefeet modified for digging. The fur is dense, and silky, colored from black to silver. There is 1 litter per year, usually in March or April, with 2-5 young per litter. The home range is 1.09 hectares (male), with the female home range considerably smaller. Tunnels are either (1) surface runways approximately 2-3 cm deep (ridges are used primarily for food collection), or (2) deep permanent passages, 10-40 cm deep used for living quarters. They are active day and night in burrows, during all seasons. During colder weather, they may use one nest site for inactive periods. They are territorial, and there is not much overlap in the ranges, yet communal main-runs do exist. Shrews, voles, meadow mice and sometimes house mice, rats and pocket gophers use tunnels of these moles. Predators include snakes and small weasels which can follow the mole underground.

Distribution

They can be found in well drained loam or sand. Soils that have large amounts of clay or gravel are avoided. Grassy fields, meadows, pastures, and broken forests have the highest concentrations of moles. The soil type and moisture is the most limiting factor.

Foods

They have a voracious appetite with daily consumption from 25-100% of the body weight. The majority of their diet is made up of earthworms, but also eat all kinds of insects and insect larvae as well as some plant material.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).