star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata cristata)
The star-nosed mole is readily distinguishable by the 22 fleshy appendages surrounding the nose, but it is also known to have a long tail, relatively weak forepaws, and a preference for watery habitats. The total length is 161-191 mm and it has a blackish-brown velvet-like furcoat. The female produces one litter of 3-7 young per year usually from April to June. This species is active both day and night. It is gregarious and perhaps colonial. The burrows are found in marshy or riparian areas, 3-6 cm in height, located 3-60 cm below the surface, often with an underwater entrance. Nests are located above high water flooding level, and composed of dead leaves, straw, and dead grass. This mole does much of it’s foraging underwater using the unusual appendages as sensory “feelers.” The tail of this species becomes inexplicably swollen in the winter and early spring. They are limited by the loss of suitable habitat including moist boggy soil, humus, sandy loam, marshes, and swamps, along streams.
This species is usually associated with water, and is regularly found in soft marshy ground along stream borders and wet meadows. It has a preference for damp meadows, marshes and swamps. In Virginia, this subspecies is found in the northern quarter of the state.
This species forages above ground at night. They also forage for food on the stream bottom and feed on aquatic annelids and insects as well as earthworms crustaceans and small fish.