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Local animals in this group:

moles and desmans


Moles and desmans are found throughout much of North America and Eurasia, there are about 42 species in this group. Most moles are burrowing animals, living and foraging almost exclusively underground, though some forage on the surface of the ground. Some moles, and the two species of desmans, are aquatic. They swim well and eat mainly fish and aquatic invertebrates. Desmans are found in Europe and Asia, they have webbed feet and long, flexible snouts which they use to probe for food at the bottom of lakes, streams, and ponds.

Burrowing moles have several remarkable adaptations to their lifestyle. Their fur is soft, velvety, and can lie equally well in all directions. This makes it easier for them to move about in the soil and to shed dirt from their fur. They have powerful, paddle-shaped forearms and well-developed claws, which allow them to burrow quickly through soil. The eyes and ears of many moles have either been drastically reduced or have become covered with skin. Their main ways of sensing the world are through smell, touch, and by sensing vibrations.

Moles have huge appetites and are active at all times of the day and throughout the year. Most moles live in areas where the soil is moist or near aquatic habitats.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Talpidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 23, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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