Parascalops brewerihairy-tailed mole

Geographic Range

Hairy-tailed moles are found from southern Quebec and Ontario to central Ohio, and south as far as western North Carolina in the Appalachian Mountains (Walker, 1964). In 1995 a hairy-tailed mole was observed near the north end of Agawa Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park. This is approximately 45km north of the previous peripheral record of Pancake Bay, Ontario (Hecnar, 1996).

Habitat

Hairy-tailed moles are found mainly in secondary growth hardwood forests, edge habitats, and meadows, with soils that are light and well drained (Hecnar, 1996). The elevation range is from sea level to about 900 meters (Walker, 1964).

  • Range elevation
    sea level to 900 m
    to 2952.76 ft

Physical Description

Hairy-tailed moles can be distinguished from other moles that are in Ontario by their short snout, hairy tail, and lack of protuberances on the snout (Hecnar, 1996). The length of the head and body is 116 to 140 mm, and the length of the tail is 23 to 36 mm. Adults weigh from 40 to 85 grams. The fur is thick, and soft, but it is slightly coarser than in the eastern American mole (Scalopus). The color is blackish . White spots are often present on the breast or abdomen; the snout, tail, and feet may become almost pure white with age. The snout is shorter than in Scalopus or Scapanus and has a median longitudinal groove on the anterior half. The nostrils are lateral and directed upward. There are no external ears, and the eyes are nearly hidden by the fur. The palms of the hands are as broad as they are long, and the digits are not webbed. The tail is thick and fleshy, with a constriction at the base. The tail is also annulated with scales, and covered with long hairs. Females have four pairs of mammae (Walker, 1964). Sexual dimorphism is evident with males being slighly larger than females (Hallett, 1978).

  • Range mass
    40 to 85 g
    1.41 to 3.00 oz
  • Range length
    116 to 140 mm
    4.57 to 5.51 in

Reproduction

The mating system and behavior of this species has not been characterized.

These moles mate in March or April. Testes reach their maximum size in March then decrease sharply in mid-May. The testes reach their resting size in October. Females produce one litter per year and become reproductive at 10 months. The usual litter size is four or five. Estimated gestation time is four to six weeks (Hallett ,1978).

  • Breeding season
    March or April
  • Average number of offspring
    4 or 5
  • Average number of offspring
    4
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    4 to 6 weeks
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    10 (low) months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    10 (low) months

Although parental care in this species has not been characterized, females are known to care for and nurse their young. Nestling moles are whitish, wrinkled, and naked except for short whiskers on the snout and facial hairs near the eyes and on the lips. The postnatal pelage is slightly grayer and much shorter than that of adults in summer (Hallett ,1978).

Lifespan/Longevity

Hairy-tailed moles live an average of 3 years in the wild. They live 3-4 years in captivity. (The Wildlife Fact File, 1991)

Behavior

Hairy-tailed moles are primarily fossorial (Hallett, 1978). They push up surface ridges of soil from shallow subsurface tunnels and mounds of earth through a vertical passage from deep tunnels. P. breweri appears to be most active during the day. These moles are solitary in the winter. They travel on the surface of the ground at night (Walker, 1964).

Moles of both sexes winter seperately. Males freely associate during spring, and by late summer males, females, and young all utilize the same tunnel systems. After mating, females once again become solitary and construct nests. Hairy-tailed moles use underground tunnels that they dig as a passageways (Hallett,1978).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Hairy-tailed moles are insectivores. Their diet consists mainly of earthworms, ants, beetle larvae, centipedes, and small rootlets. Ants may be an important food item when other foods are scarce. These moles starve when only vegetable matter is offered (Hallett, 1978).

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • terrestrial worms
  • Plant Foods
  • roots and tubers

Predation

Hairy-tailed moles travel on the surface of the ground at night and are sometimes captured by owls or other animals (Walker, 1964). Other known predators include red fox, opossum, cats, dogs, gray owl, barn owl, copperhead snake, and an adult mole was taken from the stomach of a bullfrog (Hallett,1978). There are no reports in the literature on any anti-predator adaptations in this species.

Ecosystem Roles

Because these are tunneling mammals, hairy-tailed moles assist in aeration of soil. They also likely play a role in regulating populations of invertebrates upon which they feed.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Hairy-tailed moles consume large numbers of harmful insects (Hallett,1978).

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Hairy-tailed moles are probably economically neutral due to the species' local distribution, doing some damage to lawns, gardens, and golf courses (Hallett ,1978).

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

The amount of records from the area may indicate either genuine absence or rarity, or it may reflect the lack of thorough surveys (Hecnar, 1996). This seems likly because of the fossorial nature of the mole.

Other Comments

Hairy-tailed moles house certain endoparasites: Acanthocephalid worms are fequently found in the intestine, roundworms are found in the stomachs of some of the moles, fleas and mites are the most numerous ectoparasites, occurring in the greatest abundance in the spring and summer. The louse, Euhaematopinus abnormis and the beetle, Leptinus americanus have been found on some specimens (Hallett, 1978).

Contributors

Molly Lindahl (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

soil aeration

digs and breaks up soil so air and water can get in

solitary

lives alone

suburban

living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

1991. "The Wildlife Fact File" (On-line). Accessed October 25, 2001 at www.ris.net.

Hallett, J. 1978. *Parascalops breweri*. Mammalian Species, 98: 1-4.

Hecnar, S., D. Hecnar. 1996. Range Extension of the Hairy-Tailed Mole, *Parascalops breweri*, in Northern Ontario. The Canadian Field-Naturalist, 110: 702.

Walker, E., F. Warnick, K. Lange, H. Uible, S. Hamlet. 1964. Hairy-tailed Moles, Brewer's Moles. Mammals of The World: 174.