In southern Africa we do not have any true moles. Instead we have beautiful, silky, cute Golden Moles. Since they live underground they are seldom seen but this week I was very fortunate to find a Cape Golden Mole – (Chrysochloris asiatica).
These beautiful creatures look remarkably like the true-moles which are found in America, Europe & Asia. While they are also primarily insectivorous they are quickly differentiated by the fact that our Golden-Moles have four digits on their front feet compared with five claws in the true Moles. The similarity in appearance is an example of convergent evolution, whereby species living in similar habitats evolve similar adaptations to the shared challenges of their respective environments.
Because they live underground in the dark, they do not have any eyes. They burrow remarkably rapidly through the soil and have an enlarged horny plate that protects their nostrils and assists in digging.
To further assist them with digging the have very large claws on the front feet and associated powerful muscles. Their hind feet are webbed, which assists them in shovelling the soil cut by the front claws.