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Talpa europae L.
Mammalia, Insectivora, Talpidae .

Mole

Description, Biology, Life Cycle, Damage, Common Names, Images


[R]Description
- Adult: length of the head and the body: 12 to 14 cm; length of the tail: 2 to 4 cm; weight 60 to 120 g; the female is slightly smaller and lighter than the male (*) .
- Burrowing animal, with a cylindrical body ending in a short tail, with an indistinct neck, with front paws developed in the shape of a shovel and armed with claws. The elongated snout is surmounted by minute and barely functional eyes. Ears indistinct; the female has 4 pairs of udders.
- The dense and dark grey fur, dark grey to black on the top of the body, lighter below, is made up of hairs arising perpendicularly to the skin, enabling the animal to advance or retreat in the galleries without the fur rubbing the wrong way.

[R]Biology
- Present throughout Europe, the mole frequents varied habitats, with the exception of highly sandy land. Cultivated land is less suitable than meadows with light soil or forest land (with hardwood trees), because of the cultivation methods.
- It moves about in a network of galleries situated at less than 15 cm depth but which extend down to 50 cm. Part of this network is semi-permanent and used by successive generations of moles; in general, they are not provided with molehills: as the layout is old, there is no more earth to excavate. These "main galleries" are used by many individuals. On the other hand, the temporary "hunting galleries" are dug out and used only by a single individual and not reused. When it excavates hunting galleries, the mole expells the debris in the form of molehills (*) .
- The whole of the network has a length of 100 to 200 m; it also comprises a resting place including a nest of dried leaves situated at the junction of several galleries, as well as secondary chambers, at times stocked with food reserves.
- The speed of movement of a mole in its galleries is about 1 m per second. The burrowing capacity is about 20 m a day.
- The mole is entirely carnivorous: it consumes about its own bodyweight of food per day, of which 90% is composed by earthworms.
- The senses of hearing, touch and smell are well developed and make up for its poor sight and enable it to detect its prey up to a distance of about 10 cm.

[R]Life Cycle
- The female produces its young in spring; an annual litter of 3 to 4 offspring, a second one is exceptionally.

[R]Damage
- The burrowing activities cause damage to gardens, lawns and crops (disruption of sowing, section of roots, soil contamination of silage, deterioration of cutting equipment...).
Its predation of eartworms has little effect on the population density of the latter. On the other hand, it aerates the soil, brings up deep-lying elements and destroys pest insect larvae. The mole is tolerated where it does not cause any direct disturbance.


[R]Common Names
DE: Maulwurf ES: Topo FR: Taupe d'Europe, Taupe IT: Talpa europea PT: Toupeira GB: Mole

[R] Images

  1. Talpa europaea (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Mole tunnels In a meadow.
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  2. Talpa europaea (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Adult

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