Marsupial Mole

(Notoryctes typhlops)

This animal consists of two species and is an example of remarkable convergent evolution. Although the Australian Marsupial Mole is not even distantly related to the placental moles; the only thing they have in common is the fact that they are all mammals, the Marsupial Mole has followed a similar evolutionary path making them very alike in appearance. The Marsupial Mole and the African Golden Mole are very alike. 

 

The body shape is well suited to moving through the sandy soil it inhabits, with little resistance. The Marsupial Mole has developed limbs that are able to provide good sub-terranean propulsion. The senses of sight and hearing are minimal, but those of touch and smell are highly developed. The relationship of this specialised animal with other marsupials is much in doubt. Dentition and feet structure perhaps suggest a common origin with the Bandicoot family. The female mole has a pouch, of course. 

 

Description 

 

The Marsupial Mole is a small animal whose head and body together measure about 12-15 centimetres (5"-6"). Its body is smoothly streamlined and tapers into a point at both ends, having no neck narrowing. It has fine, silky fur which has a velvety sheen. The eyes, ears and tail are minimal. The Mole’s conical nose is covered with a tough, horny shield. The limbs of the Marsupial Mole are short and powerful, each foot having five digits. It has adapted very well to burrowing as the third and fourth fingers are large and scoop-like, serving as versions of a pick and shovel. The pouch opens toward the rear so that sand is not kicked continually into it. 

 

Fur colourings very from yellowish white to a deep gold. 

 

Habitat 

 

Two populations are recorded.

 

They are in the South-central and North-western areas of Australia. 

 

The North-western colony is often listed as a second species, Notoryctes caurinus. This mole is
pinkish/cinnamon in colour and appears to be rather rare. ‘Recent’ sightings have been recorded from Mt Caroline, Fregon and Warburton Range, Western Australia. 

 

Habits

 

The Marsupial Mole lives almost entirely under ground in semi-arid, sand dune country. It tunnels along 5 to 10 cm below the sand’s surface. Because of the texture of the sand, tracks are left as the burrows collapse behind them. It appears to be a solitary animal. 

 

Diet 

 

Their chief diet consists of earthworms and subterranean insects. 

 

Reproduction 

 

They breed in November, producing one or two young. 

 

Little else is known of them, and their reported rarity may be due to lack of sightings resulting from their excellent camouflage and secretive behaviour

 

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