What are the differences between Moles & Mole-Rats ?

Mole rat

Mole Rats

African mole-rat, or Hottentot mole-rat, is a burrowing rodent found in Southern Africa, in particular in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Mole Rat facts

  • Mole-rats are stocky, short-tailed rodents with tiny eyes and near-invisible ears.
  • Mole Rats hey have evolved five tiny like fingers forming what appears to be a hand on their front feet.
  • Their coats are rather matt and not as shiny as the golden mole.
  • Their large white incisors are exposed even when the mouth is closed, the lips actually closing behind the incisors.
  • What makes these incisors special is that they move independently and voluntarily. The movement of the lower incisors is analogous to the movement of fingers as they are both involved in grasp and touch.
  • Mole rats utilize their front incisors for exploring their environment, excavating tunnels, carrying and eating food, transporting young, and grooming.
  • Furthermore, their incisors are used in competition for resources, colony defence, and interspecies competition, otherwise known as “incisor fencing”.
  • Mole-rats are herbivorous, and most species rely on storage organs like roots, though grasses, herbs and occasionally invertebrates and even other rodents are eaten by some species too.
  • They live in small colonies, although there can be up to 14-mole rats in a colony.
  • Mole rats throw up mounds along the main burrow to get rid of surplus soil loosened on an excavation. They are particularly active after rain in expanding these burrows, as can be seen in by the extended line of fresh mounds thrown up.
  • The fresh mounds are easily recognised as damp soil pushed out to retain the shape of the burrow, only breaking down in a loose pile as it dries.

 Cape Golden Mole (Chrysochloris asiatica)

Golden moles are small, insectivorous burrowing mammals endemic to Southern Africa, where their Afrikaans names are gouemolle or kruipmolle.

Moles are not blind, as most people believe. They do have eyes and internal ears, but these are very small to prevent them from being clogged up and damaged during tunnelling.

Golden Mole Facts

  • Golden Moles occur only in SubSaharan Africa, and nowhere else in the world.
  • One of their habitats in the southwestern parts of the Kruger National Park. Golden moles live underground in the sandy soil under grasslands with scattered trees and bushes (also known as bushveld).
  • The body of the golden mole is covered with silky cinnamon-brown fur that is getting darker toward the back and paler toward the belly.
  • Golden moles are highly specialized for the underground life. They have muscular shoulders and short, but strong legs, equipped with curved claws, designed for the digging of the tunnels. Webbed hind legs allow shovelling in backwards.
  • Golden moles usually dig their tunnels just below the surface of the ground
  • Although they can see, the mole’s eyesight is poor, and eyes are overgrown with no ability to detect colours, just light from dark and movement.
  • Golden mole has an excellent sense of touch and hearing internal ears), used for detection of vibrations that may signal potential danger.
  • Golden moles are insectivores with teeth almost like a little dog. with which they eat a different kind of insects, earthworms and snails. Termites are their favourite foods
  • In their hunt for earthworms and other subterranean insect prey, they use their smooth leathery snouts to push the soil upwards, which is then moved backwards with the claws of the front feet.
  • The fore-legs evolved into long clawed toes that  are used as burrowing instruments
  • Golden moles are rarely seen in the wild because they are very small, live underground and because they are active only during the night.
  • They normally burrow just below the sand surface, leaving a distinctive humped trail
  • The Cape Golden Mole is solitary. Each adult maintains its own tunnel
Lientjie Cohen
Scientific American
Encyclopedia of Life