Star-nosed Mole
(Condylura cristata)

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Physical characteristics and distribution

The body length of C. cristata is 100-127 mm, tail length is 56-84 mm. Adults weigh from 40-85 grams. They have dense, coarse black-brown fur which is water repellant. Their distinctive feature is the 22 fleshy appendages surrounding its muzzle. These are known as rays or tentacles, which except for the two median upper tentacles, are in constant motion when the animal is in search of food.

C. cristata prefers muddy or damp soil in which elaborate tunnels are constructed by compaction and pushing it to the surface to form “molehills”. Some of the tunnels may lead directly into the water. Nests are built well above the water table and consist of dry vegetation approximately 15cm in diameter. They are active year-round, both day and night. In winter, they burrow through or travel atop the snow. C. cristata is an expert swimmer and diver using all four feet in swimming and travelling under the ice in winter.

A large portion of its food is found on the bottom of streams and ponds including aquatic insects, crustaceans, small fish and earthworms.

They are often found in small colonies, and the male and female may live together throughout the winter. A single litter of 2-7 young is born in mid-April and mid-June. The nose “star” is conspicuous at 3 weeks when they about two-thirds grown. Sexual maturity occurs in both sexes at about 10 months.

C. cristata is found in Georgia and NW South Carolina (USA) to Nova Scotia and Labrador (Canada); Great Lakes region to SE Manitoba.

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation
All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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