|STAR NOSED MOLE (Condylura cristata)
This natural oddity is found in Eastern Canada, as far north as James Bay, and North Eastern United States as far south as Georgia. With 22 finger-like projections on its snout, it can feel around it for prey, which includes worms, insects, leeches, small fish and crustaceans. It prefers moist areas near lakes and rivers where it will create a series of tunnels about 1.5 feet underground. It uses strong, shovel-shaped hands to dig into the ground, and its pointed head and nose help it to push its way through the earth.
It’s “star” is ultra-sensitive; a physical adaptation meant to help it find prey in the virtual darkness of its underground world. It contains about 25,000 mechanoreceptors compared to about 17,000 of these sense zones found on the human hand. It can search 13 different areas of the ground at the same time and eat 8 different things in under 2 seconds. That makes this mole one of the fastest foragers on the planet.
Female Star-Nosed Moles can have between 2 and 7 babies in the spring. They stay with their mother for about a month and become adults at 10 months old. They usually live by themselves, rather than in groups, getting together only to mate. They probably live 3 or 4 years in the wild.
Scientists are studying whether the “star” can detect electrical activity, which could help them detect prey. If this is one of their abilities, they will join the platypus as the only two mammals known to be able to detect electrical fields.