Gunning's golden mole
|Gunning’s golden mole|
|Gunning's golden mole range|
Gunning's golden mole (Neamblysomus gunningi) is a small mammal endemic to South Africa. It was listed in 2006 as an endangered species. Its decreasing numbers are due to habitat clearance or destruction and predation from domesticated cats and dogs. It is a burrowing animal and spends the majority of its time underground.
The upper parts are a dark golden-brown tinged with a slight iridescence and the underparts are a lighter brown with a golden sheen. It has a compact, streamlined body and a wedge-shaped head and pointed muzzle. It has muscular shoulders, short powerful forelimbs and strong digging claws. The third claw is enlarged and there is no fifth digit and only a vestigial first and fourth digit. The hind feet retain all five toes and are webbed to allow efficient backward shoveling of the soil loosened with the front claws. The ears are buried in the dense fur and the vestigial eyes are covered by hairy skin. The length is between 11 and 13 centimeters. Males weigh 56 – 70 grams and females 39 – 56 grams.
Golden moles have a high metabolic rate and are not able to enter into a state of torpor in response to cold temperatures. This enables them to survive in areas where temperatures can be low and food scarce. When burrowing and foraging near the surface they create raised ridges of soil that are visible above ground. There is also a system of deeper tunnels which are used for resting and for the rearing of young. The diet is mostly earthworms, insect larvae and other small invertebrates.
Range and habitat
The golden mole is known only from the far northern Drakensberg, at Woodbush Forest and New Agatha Forest Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa where it inhabits montane forest and grasslands, cultivated farmland and young pine plantations. It prefers moist soil near watercourses and ponds. Because of this limited range it is vulnerable to any detrimental human activities within the area and its status is given as an endangered species in the IUCN Red List.
- Bronner, G. (2008). Neamblysomus gunningi. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
- Piper, Ross. Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals. Greenwood Press (2007).
- Bronner, G.N. and Jenkins, P.D. Mammal Species of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press (2005)
- Afrotheria Specialist Group
- Mammal Species of the World
- IUCN Red List