Species Profile

Eastern Mole

Scientific Name: Scalopus aquaticus
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2010
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern


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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Eastern Mole

Eastern Mole Photo 1

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Description

The Eastern Mole is the size of a mouse, with a short slender hairless tail and large broad front feet adapted for digging. The long and dense pelage is greyish brown on moles that live in the north; light golden in colour on moles that live to the south and west. Its long and pointed snout is not covered with fur. Males are 88 to 210 mm in length, of which the tail comprises 30 to 40 mm. At 80 to 118 g, they are slightly bigger than females. There are two moults every year, one in the spring and the other in the autumn.

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Distribution and Population

The Eastern Mole occurs from the northern portion of the Mexican state of Tamaulipus into the United States to southeastern South Dakota, east to Massachusetts, south to the southernmost tip of Florida and north to the Great Lakes. The Eastern Mole has the widest range of any North American mole species. In Canada, recent data indicate that the species is restricted to the southern and eastern townships of Essex County in southwestern Ontario. Based on estimates of population densities published for the United States and total available Canadian habitat (1 060 hectares, 810 of which are in Point Pelee National Park), the total Canadian population is estimated at 2 000-13 000 individuals. Monitoring data from Point Pelee National Park indicate that the species' population varies among years but no clear increasing or decreasing trend has been detected. The species’ range appears to have expanded outside the National Park, but this expansion will be limited by unsuitable soil type beyond the current range.

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Habitat

Published studies on the Eastern Mole indicate that the species inhabits a range of habitats, including forests, open woodlands, meadows, pastures and fields. It is also found in urban settings such as parks, cemeteries and residential yards. In short, the preferred habitat of the Eastern Mole is stone-free sand and sandy loam soil with a cover of woody plants.

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Biology

Eastern Moles live in subterranean tunnel systems, only occasionally going above-ground. Below-ground the species finds shelter and food, such as earthworms and invertebrate larvae. For most of the year the Eastern Mole is a solitary animal which defends its tunnels from others, but in late March and early April the males enter neighbouring tunnels in search of mates. The species produces only one litter annually, the gestation period is 28-42 days and the average litter size is four. There is no consensus on the age of young when they first disperse from the tunnel in which they were born but it is thought that the young are developing their own burrows by autumn. This stage of the mole's life is critical because its movement above-ground exposes it to predation.

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Threats

The most important limiting factor for the Eastern Mole is the availability of suitable soils. Most of the potential Canadian soil habitat outside of Point Pelee National Park has been modified for agricultural and other uses. It is estimated that less than 4% of the land area is still suitable natural habitat for the Eastern Mole. In addition, moles are affected by fluctuations in the water table. Finally, one recent study in Point Pelee National Park found Eastern Moles that were highly contaminated with DDT. It was proposed that contaminated soils pose a threat to soil-dwelling organisms and their associated predators but this has not been confirmed.

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Protection

Federal Protection

More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

The Eastern Mole occurs within Point Pelee National Park, where it is protected under the Canada National Parks Act.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date Annual population inventories recorded since 1994 suggest that while the individual Eastern Mole populations are not stable from year to year, the species as a whole in Canada is neither increasing nor decreasing over time. Summary of Research/Monitoring The Eastern Mole has been monitored in Point Pelee National Park since 1985. This monitoring has become an annual management requirement since 1989. The Point Pelee National Park population is considered the largest population in Canada. Field surveys conducted in 1997 suggest that the Eastern Mole is expanding its range into Essex County reclaiming habitat once within its historical range. A Geographic Information System is being used to assist Ontario Park managers to identify roadkill hotspots. Summary of Recovery Activities Researchers are identifying sites where traffic mortality occurs and are erecting signage to prevent roadkill.

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

6 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Eastern Mole Scalopus aquaticus in Canada (2011)

    The Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is twice the size of a mouse, with a robust body, short, scantily-haired tail, large, broad front feet, and a long, pointed, hairless snout. The colour of the dense fur varies throughout the mole’s range. The Eastern Mole can easily be distinguished from the Star-nosed Mole by the lack of fleshy appendages on its nose, and from the Hairy-tailed Mole by the absence of both webbed toes and hair on the tail.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Eastern Mole (2011)

    This small mammal has a Canadian range restricted to about 1000 hectares near Point Pelee National Park in southern Ontario. It has a restricted and fragmented distribution, but lack of adequate monitoring effort and quantification of threats underline the uncertainty of its conservation status. Although there is some evidence of decline, one third of the species’ habitat is relatively secure in the park. Threats have not been evaluated elsewhere.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (2016)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.

Management Plans

  • Management Plan for the Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus) in Canada (2015)

    The Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers under SARA for the Eastern Mole and have prepared this management plan as per section 65 of SARA. To the extent possible it has been prepared in cooperation with the Province of Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry).

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 17, 2017