03 September 2011

Backyard Gold

I haven't written a post in a very long time, so I though I'll do a post about something interesting that happened today. Not strictly camera trapping, but I'm hoping nobody will mind :)

Cape Golden Mole (Kaapse Gouemol - Chrysochloris asiatica) found in our backyard

We were enjoying some sunshine in the backyard when Ralf (Doberman) came to the house carrying something gently in his mouth (like a puppy by it's neck). I don't want them eating random dead animals, so I rushed over to inspect what it was. It was a Golden Mole! I've always wanted to see one up close and, even though this one appeared dead, it was a great opportunity to examine the little critter up close.

Full body shot

It was still in perfect condition, except for some dog slobber on it's soft fur. The little body was cold, so I presume it must have died earlier. Ralf handled it very gently and it had no apparent physical damage.

The front feet made for digging

I've been aware of the presence of Golden Moles in our yard since moving in to the house a couple of years back. I regularly notice their little tunnels in the front and the back yard.

The hind feet made for shovelling

I'm pretty sure that this is a Cape Golden Mole (Chrysochloris asiatica), but it might also be a Fynbos Golden Mole (Amblysomus corriae) based on the distribution maps in my field guides. Not much research has been done on these amazing creatures and identifying species can be tricky.

Now, while doing this post I read up on Golden Moles and apparently they enter daily torpor (basically very short hibernation). During this time their body temperature drops to within 2 degrees Celsius of the soil temperature.

This got me thinking that the cold bodied animal that I photographed might still be alive! To make things wore I remember the body still being very soft and flexible.

I rushed to where I put the little body (out of reach of the dogs) to investigate. I looked at the body and the colour of the skin was now much paler, and the body was now stiff.

This makes me wonder... I'm pretty sure Ralf didn't kill the little guy, because his body showed no signs of damage and he was carrying it very gently. Possibly the dog found it while in a state of torpor, but surely being handled by a dog and human would wake it up?

Maybe it was old and weak and Ralf just happen to be at the right place at the right time (from the dog's perspective)?

I guess we'll never know, but I'll be watching the garden to see if we have another resident Golden Moles to keep those invertebrates in check.

A photograph of Mushu (left) and Ralf (right) taken today at a small park we frequently use to walk the dogs

The Doberman is Ralf and he is now almost 13 years old and doing OK for his age, but his starting to get old quick. Mushu was adopted so we don't know his age or what breed(s) he is, but his still young and some kind of Daxie cross. Both live in the house with us and provide endless joy (and the odd pain as well).

I haven't gotten around to camera trapping much recently, but once I've wrapped up some other projects I'm busy with I'm hoping to be back in full force. Meanwhile I'm thinking of doing a couple posts like this one that are not camera trapping related in the mean time...

By the way for those of you not following the Codger's blog he had some great subterranean posts recently over in America. Check them out over here.


  1. Wow -- now that's a treat to see -- a mysterious mammal we learned about in mammalogy --back in the old days when they taught the "-ologies" -- courses about whole animals).

    Looking forward to your camtrapping posts again, and thanks for the mention.

  2. Very interesting.I have occasionally found dead moles and shrews with no apparent injury here in England......

  3. Parabéns amigo,
    por dedicar um espaço sobre esse mamífero tão raro, e que só é encontrado na África.
    Abri um blog sobre a classe dos mamíferos e estou encontrando dificuldades sobre este gênero de animais, "Toupeiras" (Brasil ou (Mole) África), E graças ao seu blog consegui muita informação sobre eles
    Obrigado e Parabéns pelo trabalho! Continue nos apresentando fotos deles.
    Jisohde G. Posser - 120721