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Sculptures by Phyllis Bone

Erinaceidae Solenodontidae Soricidae Talpidae Tenrecidae

Family: Chrysochloridae (golden moles)

Golden moles are distributed throughout southern Africa (below the equator), in various habitats ranging from swamps to deserts. There are 7 genera, containing 18 known species. Generally solitary, they live in complex burrows with an anatomy adapted well for a subterranean existence. They have small ears hidden by their fur, and their eyes are totally covered by skin. The nostrils are protected by leathery pads, which may assist burrowing. A muscular head and shoulders push the excavated soil back as they dig, and the powerful forelimbs are equipped with claws. The claw on the third, and often the second digit is elongated. There is no fifth digit on the forelimbs. Touch, and particularly detecting subterranean vibrations, is an important sense for golden moles, aided by a hugely enlarged malleus.

They burrow just below the ground, occasionally returning to the surface to forage for food. Their diet consists mostly of invertebrates. Chrysochlorids appear similar to true moles (Talpidae) and marsupial moles (Notoryctidae). Males and females both possess a cloaca for the urogenital system. They have a pair of bones, named tabulars, in the occipital area of the skull not found in any other mammals. The fur has an iridescent sheen of varying colours, but the silvery yellow fur of Grant's golden mole (Genus Eremitalpa) probably gave the family its common name. Their dental formula is: i3/3, c1/1, pm3/3, m2-3/2-3 = 36 - 40. The first incisor is enlarged, the two lateral incisors and first pre-molars are canine-like, and the molars are zalambdodont. There is no distinct breeding season, and the production of 1 - 3 young, born naked, occurs throughout the year.

Chrysochloris asiatica (Cape Golden Mole)