Animal Info - Van Zyl's Golden Mole

Cryptochloris zyli

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size & Weight, Habitat, Birth Rate, Diet, Behavior)
5. References


Profile

Golden moles are an ancient group of mammals who live mostly below ground.  They have shiny coats of dense fur and a streamlined, formless appearance.  They have no visible eyes or ears; in fact, they are blind - the small eyes are covered with hairy skin.  The ears are small and are hidden in the animal's fur.

Van Zyl's golden mole is about 80 - 90 mm (3 - 3.5") long and weighs about 20 - 30 g (0.7 - 1.0 oz). It lives in the coastal dune belt and adjacent sandy areas. Usually 2 young are born, sometimes 1. Van Zyl's golden mole eats various invertebrates, as well as legless lizards, which grow to a length of about 200 mm (8"). The young of golden moles are born in a grass-lined cavity in the ground. They usually dig their tunnels just below the ground.

Van Zyl's golden mole was initially known only from Compagnies Drift, 16 km (10 mi) inland from Lambert's Bay, northwestern Cape Province, South Africa.  Another specimen was collected at Groenriviermond, approximately 150 km (90 mi) farther north along the Namaqualand coast, in 2003. Van Zyl's golden mole is threatened by continued loss of habitat. For example, mining of coastal dunes for alluvial diamonds could lead to habitat degradation.  Habitat alteration associated with tourism developments along the west coast could also pose a problem for this species.


Tidbits

*** As long as it is awake, a golden mole keeps on the move.  This exercise keeps its body temperature normal.  If it stays still too long, its temperature falls quickly.  Sleeping would be hazardous if it weren't for the fact that its muscles twitch while it is asleep. This produces heat to help stabilize its body temperature.

*** Van Zyl's golden mole pretends to be dead when first picked up or turned over with a shovel.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where Van Zyl's Golden Mole Is Currently Found:

2006: Occurs in South Africa . (IUCN 2006)

History of Distribution:

Van Zyl's golden mole was initially known only from Compagnies Drift, 16 km (10 mi) inland from Lambert's Bay, northwestern Cape Province, South Africa.  Another specimen was collected at Groenriviermond, approximately 150 km (90 mi) farther north along the Namaqualand coast, in 2003. However, the extent to which the distribution of this golden mole is continuous between these two sites is not known. (IUCN 2006).

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Van Zyl's golden mole is threatened by continued loss of habitat. For example, mining of coastal dunes for alluvial diamonds could lead to habitat degradation.  Habitat alteration associated with tourism developments along the west coast could also pose a problem for this species. (IUCN 2006)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size & Weight:

Van Zyl's golden mole is about 80 - 90 mm (3 - 3.5") long and weighs about 20 - 30 g (0.7 - 1.0 oz).

Habitat:

Van Zyl's golden mole lives in the coastal dune belt and adjacent sandy areas (IUCN 2006).

Van Zyl's golden mole is found in the Cape Floristic Region Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005).

Birth Rate:

Usually 2 young are born, sometimes 1.

Diet:

Van Zyl's golden mole eats various invertebrates, as well as legless lizards (genus Typhlosaurus), which grow to a length of about 200 mm (8") and shelter in the sand under bushes (Nowak 1999).

Behavior:

The young of golden moles are born in a grass-lined cavity in the ground.

Golden moles usually dig tunnels just below the ground.


References

Cons. Intl. 2005., IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, Kingdon 1997, Nowak 1999, Stuart & Stuart 1996, Wilson & Reeder 1993


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Last modified: June 4, 2006;

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