View Full Version : Friday Trivia: Star-nosed Moles

Star lover
May 4th, 2018, 06:58 AM
Star-nosed moles can detect scents underwater an ability that makes them unique among mammals.

They do this by exhaling bubbles into the water, then re-inhaling them to sniff for insects, fish and other prey.


Like most moles, star-nosed moles have poor eyesight. They compensate for this with a cluster of super-sensitive tentacles around their noses that allow them to detect even the slightest movement.

That star-shaped cluster of tentacles also gave the star-nosed mole its name.

They eat faster than any other mammal on Earth: Star-nosed moles can identify and eat food (bugs, mostly) in less than two-tenths of a second, taking a mere 8 milliseconds to decide whether an item is edible or not. They perform this feat in part due to the extremely efficient operation of their nervous systems, which convey information from the environment to the animal's brain at speeds approaching the physiological limit of neurons. It also helps that...

...Their star is the most sensitive known touch organ in any mammal. 152214

The distinctive star organ on the mole's snout contains more than 100,000 nerve fibers--five times the number of "touch" fibers in the human hand, all packed into a space smaller than your fingertip. So sensitive, scientists are studying their use in detecting earthquakes!

From a neurological perspective, their sense of touch mirrors our sense of sight: At the center of the star organ is a small area called the touch fovea that the mole uses for all of its most detailed explorations. Although the mole's actual eyes are essentially useless, the touch fovea is neurologically organized in a way that is strikingly similar to the organization of a highly developed visual system. As the mole moves through its environment, it constantly shifts the star to reposition the fovea on areas of interest, just as we shift our eyes while reading the words printed on a page, for example.

If you use the right dye, you can literally see which parts of their brains map to which body parts: Scientists create maps of the brains of humans and other animals using a painstaking process of trial and error to determine which areas of the brain control (and receive stimuli from) various parts of the body. In star-nosed moles, you can actually see the brain maps with the right kinds of cellular stains. You can basically see a 'star' in the mole's neocortex.

Their front legs are shovels: Using their shovel-like front limbs to tunnel through soggy, marsh-like areas, the moles often dive and swim for food.


Star-nosed moles are not uncommon, just uncommonly seen. The species' range stretches along the Eastern portions of the U.S. and Canada, where they prefer damp soil near water. So keep an eye out--what you find just might surprise you.

.....OK, interesting.......but oh my, are they ever ugly!

May 4th, 2018, 07:11 AM
I couldn't read all your post, it was giving me the willies. Moles are making our back yard horrible with their little mole hills.

Iris Girl
May 4th, 2018, 08:59 AM
Funny this is the topic today. Hubby was just reading about these. Then he remembered * didn't you get bit by one when you were young?* Yep I did found it in our backyard, thought it was so cute with its flower shaped nose, picked it up ouch! I was probably only 6 or 7 at the time. Never seen one since and thats been 50 years.

May 4th, 2018, 10:41 AM
They are a strange-looking creature but it's fascinating to read about them. The world has many amazing creatures. I had never heard of these moles until I read the trivia. Thank you.

May 4th, 2018, 11:33 AM
I think they are cute!

May 4th, 2018, 11:49 AM
They sort of creep me out sorry. I wonder where they are native to ? I hope its not Alabama!

May 4th, 2018, 01:39 PM
They sort of creep me out sorry. I wonder where they are native to ? I hope its not Alabama!

Same here. I hope I never see one.