Not the most loved of creatures, moles. Nerd that I am I find it really exciting when I see little puffs of earth coming from molehills, indicating that the digger must be directly below, but to date I hadn’t seen one up close. This all changed last Thursday, when we found one dead by a gate, apparently as a result of natural causes. It’s so rare to see one that I took the opportunity to take some photos of it, and can personally attest that its fur was as soft as velvet. After doing some reading on moles over the easter weekend (as one does), I thought I’d share my three favourite facts about them. PREPARE TO LEARN.
1.The spanish for mole is topo, which is adorable.
2. Moles have a mental looking humerus (the upper arm bone, you can see a comparison to a normal shaped one here). It’s covered in projections, giving it a large surface area on which to attach muscles. It’s one of the reasons why moles can move their body weight in soil every minute.
3. Female moles are hermaphrodites. I’m aware this sounds like a complete oxymoron, but it’s true. They possess ovotestes, which, as it says on the tin, are composed of a normal, fertile ovary but also of testicular tissue. This second type is sterile but still produces testosterone, and could explain why and how females aggressively defend their territories during the non-breeding season. They’re the only mammals we know of that have this unusual arrangement.