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Golden moles according to MammalMAP

Around 21 species of golden moles are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, with only three of these species actually occurring outside of southern Africa. The 18 southern African species can either be found in semi-dry and fynbos habitats, or indigenous forest and savannah habitats.

Golden moles are tiny burrowing mammals with streamlined-shaped bodies that can be up to 9 centimetres long – except for giant golden moles which are twice the size at around 20 centimetres! Their dense, silky fur may vary in colour from black to cinnamon-brown, with iridescent sheens of coppery gold to bronze or even green and purple. They have tough skin with wedge shaped muzzles and leathery nose pads, no external eyes and small ears covered by fur. Golden moles have short and powerful forefeet with scary pick-like claws on the third (and sometimes second) digit.

Golden moles are opportunistic insectivores that feed mainly on millipedes and earthworms they find underground.

They have a gestation period of four to six months, and give birth to one or two babies.

Ten species of golden moles are listed under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, one of which is Critically Endangered (De Winton’s golden mole). Five are listed as Endangered: Marley’s golden mole, Giant golden mole, Van Zyl’s golden mole, Gunning’s golden mole and Juliana’s golden mole. Most of these threatened species are experiencing habitat degradation as a result of human activities.

For more information on MammalMAP, visit the MammalMAP virtual museum or blog.

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