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(moles), a family of mammals of the order Insectivora. All talpids except the shrew moles, which are terrestrial, are adapted to a subterranean, fossorial way of life. The trunk is cylindrical, the external ear is absent, the anterior limbs are short, and the claws are long and flattened. The fur is short, smooth, velvety, and almost devoid of nap. Talpids have poor vision; the eyes of some species are covered with skin. The olfactory and tactile senses are well developed.
There are four subfamilies, with 17 genera (more than 30 species). The subfamily Uropsilinae (shrew moles) has three genera and is distributed in Tibet and China. The subfamily Urotri-chinae consists of six genera and is found in Southeast Asia, Japan, and North America (the star-nosed mole belongs to this subfamily). The subfamily Scalopinae, with two genera, is native to North America; the subfamily Talpinae, with six genera, is native to Europe and Asia.
Only moles of the subfamily Talpinae are found in the USSR, including four species of the genus Talpa and two of the genus Mogera. The best-known species is the common European mole (Talpa europaea). It is distributed in the forest or forest-steppe zone of the Russian Plain, in the Caucasus, and in Siberia. It dwells in meadows and mixed and deciduous forests and is encountered in orchards and gardens. The common European mole ascends high in the mountains.
Talpids live underground in a complex system of tunnels and almost never surface; in open places they build up characteristic mounds of earth. They feed primarily on earthworms but also consume insects and their larvae (including moths, beetles, click beetles, and June bugs). They reproduce usually once a year. Gestation is about six weeks. The young are born in litters that average in size from four to five (up to nine). At birth the young are hairless and helpless; however, they become self-sufficient as early as five or six weeks of age.
The Siberian alpine mole (Talpa altaica), which is larger than the European common mole, is distributed between the Ob’ and the Baikal Region. Two other species of the genus Talpa are found in the Caucasus. The fur of the common European mole and the Siberian alpine mole is valued commercially. The mogera, Mogera robusta, which measures 16–20 cm long, is found in the Far East. The mogera M. wogura is found in the extreme southwest of the Primor’e. The soil-forming activity of all talpids is beneficial. Hunting of Talpidae is regulated by law in the USSR and the countries of Western Europe.
REFERENCESStroganov, S. U. “Sistematika krotovykh (Talpidae).” Trudy Zoologicheskogo instituta AN SSSR, 1948, vol. 8, issue 2.
Deparma, N. K. Krot. Moscow, 1951.
Okhotina, M. V. Dal’nevostochnyi krot i ego promysel. Moscow, 1966.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.
N. K. DEPARMA