Wild Fact #958 – Mr. Sensitivity – Star Nosed Mole

Wild Fact #958 – Mr. Sensitivity – Star Nosed Mole

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Since I grew up in a mining town I figure it is about time I start looking underground for some interesting Wild Facts! Personally, I think the adaptations of the Star Nosed Mole are incredibly interesting.

If a star nosed mole walked into the optometrists, I am pretty sure they would fail any eye exam since they are typically blind.  I guess there is not much need for eyesight when you live in the dark underworld.  So how do these little critters find their way around? How do they find food? Well, in the words of Tucan Sam, they just “Follow Their Nose”. That’s right, the star shaped “nose” is a super sensitive organ that allows them to detect their prey.  For the record, if I was talking about this in person, I would have used air quotes for the word nose.  Why? One, because I tend to talk with my hands and two because the nose may be considered to be more of a nose/eye/hand then just a plain old nose. I know you may think I am full of crazy talk today but just give me a second to explain.  Geez, you think you would know that I will explain myself by now.

This twenty-two appendage star can be called a nose since it is centered on the moles face and does contain two tiny nostrils. Although, it can be called an eye since it is believed that the waving of these tentacles are similar to us tracking things with our eyes. Even more proof that it is similar to the eye is the way the brain is made up in the mole.  The cortex of the brain is similar to that of an animal with eyes.  Finally and in my opinion most importantly, the nose is like a hand since it is actually 6 times more sensitive then a human hand.  This sensitivity allows the mole to feel its surroundings and find its food.  Imagine if our noses were actually our eyes and hands as well!  Just a thought, if our nose was also our eyes, how would we keep glasses on our face?

Have a great day!

10 Comments

  1. Avatar
    candy October 20, 2009

    These little guys are weird looking. I’ve seen many moles and mice through out my lifetime but never seen anything looking like this. Are these guys found in Canada? Their actual claws look like they could tunnel a mine. They’re huge in proportion to their bodies.

    Thanks for a neat fact. I sure wish I had high speed internet so I could look at the video.

    • Avatar
      Nathan October 23, 2009

      Believe it or not these funny looking moles are found throughout Ontario and Eastern Canada/USA. Click here for a distribution map:

      http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~campbelk/moledistribution.html

      Their hands are built to dig as well as to help them swim. Star Nosed Moles will spend time in the rivers looking for food on the river bottom.

      I hope you get high speed internet soon!

  2. Avatar
    Larissa October 20, 2009

    On the looks scale, this guy is right up there with the platypus! I love it.

    • Avatar
      Nathan October 23, 2009

      They do sort of have similar looks, don’t they! I love the platypus as well!

      This mole may not look cute but that funny nose sure benefits this little critter.

  3. Avatar
    Bev Lawrence October 20, 2009

    I’ve actually seen two of these guys just recently. Unfortunately it was after the cat dragged the corpses into the yard. I assumed they were some kind of mole, but I wasn’t sure as I had never seen anything like it before. The video clip was very interesting. Candy you are going to have to do something about your Internet Service.
    LOL Auntie B.

    • Avatar
      Nathan October 23, 2009

      That is pretty interesting that you have actually seen them, even if they were dead! You sure have seen your fair share of animals on the farm, haven’t you?

      I hope you had a great week and enjoyed the facts!

  4. Avatar
    anml_lvr October 20, 2009

    I’ve already seen this before! The National Geographic Magazine had an extreme close-up of its nose in their October Issue. I love the shape. It’s so weird!

    • Avatar
      Nathan October 23, 2009

      I didn’t realize the National Geographic had a feature on this little guy. On my way back from Kamloops I picked up a copy for the plane ride. The first page I opened had the write up on the star nosed mole. I was surprised!
      Nice to see you are reading educational magazines such as National Geographic. It is a great magazine.

  5. Avatar
    Jeff March 21, 2012

    I just took my motorcycle out of winter storage today
    started it up and it wasnt running right
    Gave it some revs and out pops the poor little creature from the exhaust pipe
    Killed the poor little guy
    Ive never seen one of these critters before in real life
    I have on TV
    I live in northern ontario canada.
    It was interesting to see this but i feel bad that i killed the poor little guy buy starting my bike
    but i guess thats life if youre dumb enough to call a exhaust pipe home

    • Avatar
      Nathan March 21, 2012

      Hmmm…..that is really interesting, Jeff. Definitely an interesting animal to see up close.

      If I were you, I wouldn’t feel too bad about killing the little guy. Typically, when you see moles above ground, it is because they have left the burrow to go and die… so it may have just been this guy’s time.

      Thanks for sharing your story and for visiting Wild Facts.

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