Spalacidae


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Spalacidae

 

(mole rats), a family of mammals of the order Rodentia. Mole rats are approximately 35 cm long and have a short tail. The external ears and eyes are rudimentary, with the eyeballs concealed under the skin. The dense, soft fur varies in color from pale yellow to brown.

Mole rats are burrowers, digging complex systems of underground tunnels. They inhabit steppes, forest steppes, semi-steppes, and mountain meadows in Europe, West Asia, and North Africa. In mountains they live at elevations reaching 2,500 m.

There are two genera, embracing eight species. The best-known species is the Russian mole rat (Spalax microphthalmus), which inhabits the steppes of the European USSR. Mole rats feed on the underground parts of plants and store food for the winter. They produce from one to three offspring once or twice a year. Mole rats do sporadic damage by breaking the soil, destroying root crops, and gnawing tree seedlings. [23–1667–]