Scientific Name: Scalopus aquaticus
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2010
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Image of Eastern Mole
The Eastern Mole is the size of a mouse, with a short slender hairless tail and large broad front feet adapted for digging. The long and dense pelage is greyish brown on moles that live in the north; light golden in colour on moles that live to the south and west. Its long and pointed snout is not covered with fur. Males are 88 to 210 mm in length, of which the tail comprises 30 to 40 mm. At 80 to 118 g, they are slightly bigger than females. There are two moults every year, one in the spring and the other in the autumn.
Distribution and Population
The Eastern Mole occurs from the northern portion of the Mexican state of Tamaulipus into the United States to southeastern South Dakota, east to Massachusetts, south to the southernmost tip of Florida and north to the Great Lakes. The Eastern Mole has the widest range of any North American mole species. In Canada, recent data indicate that the species is restricted to the southern and eastern townships of Essex County in southwestern Ontario. Based on estimates of population densities published for the United States and total available Canadian habitat (1 060 hectares, 810 of which are in Point Pelee National Park), the total Canadian population is estimated at 2 000-13 000 individuals. Monitoring data from Point Pelee National Park indicate that the species' population varies among years but no clear increasing or decreasing trend has been detected. The species’ range appears to have expanded outside the National Park, but this expansion will be limited by unsuitable soil type beyond the current range.
Published studies on the Eastern Mole indicate that the species inhabits a range of habitats, including forests, open woodlands, meadows, pastures and fields. It is also found in urban settings such as parks, cemeteries and residential yards. In short, the preferred habitat of the Eastern Mole is stone-free sand and sandy loam soil with a cover of woody plants.
Eastern Moles live in subterranean tunnel systems, only occasionally going above-ground. Below-ground the species finds shelter and food, such as earthworms and invertebrate larvae. For most of the year the Eastern Mole is a solitary animal which defends its tunnels from others, but in late March and early April the males enter neighbouring tunnels in search of mates. The species produces only one litter annually, the gestation period is 28-42 days and the average litter size is four. There is no consensus on the age of young when they first disperse from the tunnel in which they were born but it is thought that the young are developing their own burrows by autumn. This stage of the mole's life is critical because its movement above-ground exposes it to predation.
The most important limiting factor for the Eastern Mole is the availability of suitable soils. Most of the potential Canadian soil habitat outside of Point Pelee National Park has been modified for agricultural and other uses. It is estimated that less than 4% of the land area is still suitable natural habitat for the Eastern Mole. In addition, moles are affected by fluctuations in the water table. Finally, one recent study in Point Pelee National Park found Eastern Moles that were highly contaminated with DDT. It was proposed that contaminated soils pose a threat to soil-dwelling organisms and their associated predators but this has not been confirmed.
Federal ProtectionMore information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
The Eastern Mole occurs within Point Pelee National Park, where it is protected under the Canada National Parks Act.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Recovery Progress and Activities
Summary of Progress to Date Annual population inventories recorded since 1994 suggest that while the individual Eastern Mole populations are not stable from year to year, the species as a whole in Canada is neither increasing nor decreasing over time. Summary of Research/Monitoring The Eastern Mole has been monitored in Point Pelee National Park since 1985. This monitoring has become an annual management requirement since 1989. The Point Pelee National Park population is considered the largest population in Canada. Field surveys conducted in 1997 suggest that the Eastern Mole is expanding its range into Essex County reclaiming habitat once within its historical range. A Geographic Information System is being used to assist Ontario Park managers to identify roadkill hotspots. Summary of Recovery Activities Researchers are identifying sites where traffic mortality occurs and are erecting signage to prevent roadkill.
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
6 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Action Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- Management Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
Recovery Document Posting Plans
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