Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It lives in wet lowland areas and eats aquatic insects, worms, molluscs and small fish. It is a good swimmer and can forage at the bottoms of ponds. Like other moles, this animal digs shallow surface tunnels for foraging; often, these tunnels exit underwater. It is active day and night and remains active in winter, tunneling through the snow.
This animal is covered in thick blackish brown waterproof fur and has a long thick tail and large scaled feet. It is 15 to 20 cm in length and weighs about 55 g. It has 44 teeth. Its most distinctive feature is a circle of 22 fleshy tentacles at the end of its snout.
The incredibly sensitive tentacles are covered with thousands of minute sensory receptors known as Eimer's organs and are used to identify food by touch and, it is suspected, by detecting electrical activity in prey animals. Other mole species also have Eimer's organs, but not in the same number as the Star-nosed Mole. Eimer's organs were first described in the European Mole in 1871 by German zoologist Theodor Eimer. A report in the journal Nature gives this animal the title of fastest-eating mammal, taking only 230 milliseconds to identify and consume food.
These animals mate in late winter or early spring. The female has one litter of 4 or 5 young in late spring or early summer.
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