Are Moles Blind? How Do They Adapt To Their Environment? | Kidadl


Are Moles Blind? How Do They Adapt To Their Environment?

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There's a whole world to explore below the Earth's surface where subterranean fauna is found in abundance.

Not only are these subterranean environments characterized by persistent darkness but also by isolation and limited space. Solitary by nature, these conditions pair well with the mole's underground lifestyle.

Moles are a species of small animals belonging to the Mammalian order Talpidae. Often mistaken for rodents due to their appearance, these fossorial creatures live in burrow systems. The burrowing patterns consist of an intricate network of tunnels which can be either permanent or temporary. Moles spend most of their lives below the ground and rarely seek out the surface other than foraging for food, reproducing, or digging new burrows. Life in a burrow, however, is accompanied by certain limitations. Foremost, the eyesight of a mole is seriously flawed. The condition is further enhanced by the fact that there have no external ear flaps. In order to combat the shortcomings in their eyesight, these animals have developed some unique adaptations. Besides the disadvantages, moles' eyes act as biological clocks that alert them to be active during mating season (February to April). Usually, a litter of pups can be seen by May. Moreover, the oversized forefeet of a mole have specialized functions for digging burrows. Extra thumbs in their forefeet allow them to competently bulldoze their way through dirt and debris and literally see light at the end of a tunnel.

Keep reading to discover various facts about the moths! You can also check out why do mice squeak and are mice nocturnal to discover interesting facts about them.

Why Moles Have Poor Eyesight

It is true that a mole's eyes cannot be leveled with human standards of functionality. However, their inferior vision has been the subject of some widely circulating myths. A popular misconception among these characterizes a mole by inherent blindness.

Moles may not see much other than light but, it's an exaggeration to say that they are completely blind. Unlike in a human, a mole's poor eyesight is not a result of progressive deterioration but happens as a result of natural selection thus, leaving the eyes in an underdeveloped state. Neural receptors in a mole's eye block out almost everything other than light, including colors, which makes them effectively color blind. Most moles have their eyes covered with a third protective layer of skin. Both the eyes and ear canals of a mole are hard to locate as they are covered in fur. The mole's vestigial eyes have shrunken to the extent that they are almost unable to see anymore. Similar to their eyes, moles do not possess well-pronounced ear canals but what appears as holes in their skulls. These are in fact, an extremely degenerative pair of ears.

Fun Facts About Moles, The Solitary Animal

A mole's cycle of activity is programmed year-round around the clock, these small mammals toil relentlessly and remain operational throughout the year.

Primarily found in wetlands, meadows, or woodlands, the 20 true mole species are known to inhabit both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Amphibious moles are found near water bodies and operate mainly through underwater tunnels whereas, terrestrial moles prefer loose topsoil and rely on land surfaces for their tunnel building activity. Known for their profound tunnel-digging abilities, moles dig deep burrows reaching up to 196.8-229.6 ft (60-70 m) in depth, within the span of a single day. In the process, they leave behind a mound of dirt near the tunnel openings known as molehills. Regarding diet, moles are primarily insectivores. Most moles prey on small insects, worms, snails, and other invertebrates but will eat anything from vegetative matter to succulent fruits. They are known to have large appetites and it is estimated that moles consume nearly the same amount of food as their own body weight.

European mole in mud

Factors Leading to Mole Infestation In Gardens or Lawns

Moles have earned an infamous reputation as garden pests but are rarely appreciated for the role they play in soil management. While a mole's tunnel building activity causes irreparable damage to plants and crops, its contribution to landscaping cannot be denied.

Gardeners are overly contemptuous of moles and look at them as an invasive species that will ruin the roots of plants from below the ground. In their defense, moles mostly feed on insects and are particularly fond of earthworms. Their appetite for earthworms is so extreme that they consume an amount nearly equivalent to their own body weight every day. In fact, it isn't the roots, shoots, or plants that moles are attracted to in a garden. Mole activity is directly linked with a high concentration of pests in the soil. Their diets, which constitute most soil organisms like worms and snails, regulate the pest population. Keeping a controlled pest population, in turn, increases soil fertility. However, the downside is that these tunnels create pathways for other creatures like rodents to access the surrounding lawns and gardens. Although moles do not independently cause damage to crops, they make ample room for inviting other invasive species that prove to be detrimental to humans or human areas of interest.

How Moles Adapt And Interact With Their Environment

Moles are known to dig complex systems of tunnels to navigate their way in dark, subterranean habitats. These underground networks are well designed and the utility of each chamber is separated. Storage cells are used for stocking food (mostly earthworms and other kinds of worms), trapping chambers are used for luring prey, bunkers are used for sleeping, and breeding cells are used to mate seasonally.

For a fossorial species, moles are extremely short-sighted. The fur-covered, small hole-like ear canals are planted in their skulls which, for a mole, is practically useless. Often mistaken as a cause of their vulnerability, a mole's lack of vision and hearing is well balanced out with its acute sense of smell and touch. These mammals use the hairs in their snout as eyes to navigate their way inside dark, self-dug holes and their highly sensitive touch is used to detect vibrations. Most moles have a third, very thin, layer of skin covering their eyes which prevents dirt from getting inside their eyes. Most importantly, these mammals are well designed to live in subterranean environments. The size of its body (not exceeding 10 in (20 cm) in length) is suited to survive in low oxygen environments. The soft, silk-like texture of their fur coats facilitates effortless backward and forward movement inside a tunnel. Since moles are small, the limited space is hardly problematic. A mole uses its oversized front paws to push aside soil and debris and most importantly, dig an intricate system of tunnels for navigation, foraging for food, and more. Venturing out at night poses a serious threat for moles as they are practically defenseless and can become easy targets for bigger predators. Therefore, a mole is most active during daylight.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are moles blind then why not take a look at how far can a skunk spray, or European mole facts pages?

<p>With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature.&nbsp;</p>

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