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star nosed mole.

Star Nosed Mole (Condylura cristata)

Star Nosed Moles (Condylura cristata) are found throughout the northern and eastern region of North America, from Quebec to Georgia. Although they are common in the western Great Lakes region, few people see them because they inhabit wetlands and spend much of their time in water or underground. It is the northernmost found species of mole and is also the only mole that prefers poorly drained wet soils. It is often found in wet meadows, marshes, bogs, or along stream and pond banks. Its powerful front legs are well adapted to burrowing through soil or mud, but unlike other moles, Star Nosed Moles are also powerful swimmers. They are most active under water in the winter, even under the ice, when soil-dwelling prey like insects are more scarce.

A recent study published in the journal "Nature" has shown that this species is one of the fastest predators in the world. A star nosed mole can locate, identify a food item, and eat it in about 230 milliseconds. Only certain species of fish are speedier foragers. this remarkable speed is due in part to their extremely sensitive 22-lobed noses, and due in part to a very rapid sensory response in their nervous systems.

But why do they need to feed so quickly? Kenneth C. Catania, who conducted the research, speculates that is a way of increasing foraging efficiency. It takes a certain amount of energy to process each item regardless of the size of the food item. Since most of the invertebrates these moles feed on are very small, they are increasing their efficiency by feeding very fast on many tiny items, rather than foraging more slowly and capturing fewer large prey. This seems to be supported by the fact that these moles also have very small incisors that are better able to precisely hold tiny prey.

More information on Star Nosed Moles:

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Last updated on April 15, 2014