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mole (in zoology)

mole, in zoology, common name for the small, burrowing, insectivorous mammals of the family Talpidae, found throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Moles are trapped as pests, although they probably do less damage than the animals they destroy, and for their fur, which is highly valued.

Typical moles have rounded bodies about 6 in. (15.2 cm) long covered with soft black or gray fur; they have pointed muzzles and lack external ears. They have acute hearing and a highly developed sense of touch at the ends of their noses and tails; their tiny eyes, covered with skin or buried in fur, are sensitive to changes in light level but provide little visual acuity. Moles have short, powerful legs and extremely broad front feet, which are used as shovels and are equipped with enormous digging claws. They can move backwards almost as rapidly as forwards, and most are good swimmers.

Moles tunnel just below the surface of the ground, where they hunt for food. Their tunnels make ridges and mounds in fields, gardens, and lawns; quarters for living, nesting, and wintering are in deeper burrows. A single mole can dig about 20 yd (18 m) of tunnel in a day. Moles are voracious eaters, consuming about half their own weight daily. Their diet consists mainly of earthworms and insects, but also includes small mammals such as mice; one mole may even kill and eat another when they happen to meet. They are solitary most of the year, but during the breeding season they travel in pairs. The litter, born in the spring after four weeks of gestation, consists of two to seven young.

Typical species include the common European mole, Talpa europaea, and the eastern, or garden, mole of North America, Scalopus aquaticus, both about 6 in. (15.2 cm) long with a 1-in. (2.54-cm) tail. The largest moles are the western moles of North America, genus Scapanus, which may reach a length of 9 in. (22.9 cm). The smallest New World mole is the 3-in. (7.6-cm) shrew mole, Neurotrichus gibbsii, of the Pacific Northwest, which resembles a shrew and prefers a forest habitat, spending much time above ground. The strangest-looking of the family is the star-nosed mole, Condylura cristata, of northeastern North America, which has a ring of mobile fleshy protuberances around its snout. This mole is a good diver and leads a semiaquatic life; apparently it uses the protuberances to pick up sounds in the water.

There are no true moles in the Southern Hemisphere. The golden moles of S Africa are members of the insectivorous family Chrysochloridae; they are burrowing animals with bright golden fur. There are burrowing rodents in Africa called strand moles and burrowing marsupials in Australia called marsupial moles. True moles are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Soricomorpha, family Talpidae.

See study by K. Mellanby (1973).

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"mole (in zoology)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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mole

mole1 / mōl/ • n. 1. a small burrowing insectivorous mammal (family Talpidae) with dark velvety fur, a long muzzle, and very small eyes. Its several species include the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) of North America. 2. a spy who achieves over a long period an important position within the security defenses of a country. ∎  someone within an organization who anonymously betrays confidential information. mole2 / mōl/ • n. a small, often slightly raised blemish on the skin made dark by a high concentration of melanin. mole3 / mōl/ • n. a large solid structure on a shore serving as a pier, breakwater, or causeway. ∎  a harbor formed or protected by such a structure. mole4 / mōl/ • n. Chem. the SI unit of amount of substance, equal to the quantity containing as many elementary units as there are atoms in 0.012 kg of carbon-12. mole5 / mōl/ • n. Med. an abnormal mass of tissue in the uterus. See also hydatidiform mole.

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"mole." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"mole." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved October 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/mole-1

mole

mole Any of several species of small, burrowing, mainly insectivorous mammals that live in various habitats worldwide. The European mole, Talpa europaea, has short brown or black fur, a short tail, and wide clawed forefeet for digging tunnels. Its eyes are sensitive only to bright light. Length: to 18cm (7in). Family Talpidae.

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"mole." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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mole

mole2 small burrowing mammal. XIV. ME. mol(l)e, mulle, prob. — MDu. mol, moll(e), (M)LG. mol, mul.

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"mole." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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mole

mole See TALPIDAE.

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"mole." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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