There are many amazing, even frightening creatures in the world. The latter can be safely attributed to the star-nosed mole, which, if not the head, is necessarily included in the list of the most “ugly” animals on our planet. The mole earned this title thanks to its unusual nose. However, the starship is interesting not only for its extravagant appearance. You definitely need to learn more about such an animal!
Origin of the species and description
Starships are also called starfish. In Latin, their name sounds like Condylura cristata. This is one of the most unique species of mammals. Star-nosed is a bright representative of the mole family. In this family, he was allocated a separate subfamily, which is called: the subfamily “Moles of the New World”. The decision to separate into a separate subfamily was made due to the presence of special characteristics of starfish that distinguish them from other moles.
This type of mole loves water procedures, but the main difference from its closest relatives is their nose. It is twenty-two skin growths shaped like a star. These growths are located directly on the face of the animal and do not look very attractive. In addition to the “ugly” nose, such a mole is distinguished by coarse brown hair, relatively small size – the length of the star nose usually does not exceed twenty centimeters.
Interesting fact: the star nose is not an ordinary mole. He not only loves to walk on the surface of the earth, but also loves to swim in the water. And helps him in this hard wool, which has a water-repellent effect.
The star-shaped growth on the face of this animal is unique. Scientists have found that it can be called the most sensitive system of touch in the world. There are more than a hundred thousand nerve endings on this organ. This indicator is five times greater than the sensitivity of the human hand! In addition, the star-shaped nose is able to perceive odors even under water. To do this, the animal releases bubbles into the water, then draws them back. According to scientists, it is these bubbles that allow the mole to smell the prey in the water.
Appearance and Features
Starships have a number of very characteristic external features:
- strong physique. The star-nosed body has a cylindrical shape, similar to the physique of an ordinary mole. The length does not exceed twenty centimeters. The head is elongated, the neck is very short. Weight is approximately seventy grams;
- small eyes, no auricles. Like all moles, the starfish has tiny eyes. Vision is very poor. The organs of vision are compensated by a well-developed sense of touch;
- well developed forelegs. The front pair of paws of the animal is intended for earthworks. The mole digs holes with them. On the paws are long fingers with large claws. The hind legs are similar in appearance to the front ones, but not as developed;
- long tail. This animal has a tail that can be up to eight centimeters long. It is completely covered with hard wool. In winter, the tail stores fat, so its size increases somewhat;
- dense, water-repellent, silky coat. Its color is dark – from brown to black;
- unusual nose. This is the most basic sign by which a star-nosed mole can be distinguished from an ordinary mole. The stigma consists of twenty-two skin growths. Such growths in length do not exceed four millimeters. They have many nerve endings that help the animal recognize prey.
Interesting fact: The predominantly underground lifestyle has deprived moles of vision. The eyes of such animals are underdeveloped. However, the star-noses were more fortunate than their closest relatives. They have an ultra-sensitive nose that allows them to receive the necessary information from the outside.
Where does the starship live?
Star-bearers have certain requirements for their habitat. Unlike other moles, these animals do not lead an exclusively underground lifestyle. They can often be seen on the surface of the earth and even in water. For this reason, animals prefer to live near the reservoir. They also place their houses there. The houses are a very complex system of passages with several chambers, entrances and exits. One of the exits usually leads directly into the water.
Climatic conditions are also extremely important for them. Starfish prefer places with high levels of humidity. Within their natural range, they inhabit damp meadows, wetlands, and coastal areas. In the forest or dry steppe, such an animal cannot be found. Such areas are avoided by star-noses.
Starship is an American mole. It is widespread only in the New World. Its habitat includes the entire east coast of the United States, Canada. The habitat of the animal extends to the west – to the Great Lakes. The most interesting is the fact that the star carriers in the south and north differ from each other. The southern animals are small, the northern ones are larger. For this reason, scientists have identified two subspecies: northern, southern.
Now you know where the starfish is found. Let's see what this unusual animal eats.
What does the star bat eat?
Starships — very active moles, which is also their distinguishing feature from other relatives. They spend almost the whole day searching for food, which is driven by their natural voracity. Animals look for food everywhere: in water, on the surface of the earth and under it. They are constantly digging tunnels in search of food. In one day, the starship makes about six hunting trips. The rest of the time, the animal is busy digesting food and resting.
The daily diet of starfish includes:
- small fish, crustaceans, mollusks;
- some insects, their larvae;
- little mice, frogs.
Appetite and the amount of food eaten depends not only on the size of the animal, its habitat, but also on the time of year. So, gluttony is more pronounced in the summer season. At this time, the mole can eat as much food per day as it weighs itself. At other times of the year, the amount of food does not exceed thirty-five grams.
Most animals use their organs of vision during hunting, looking for prey. Star-nosed moles hunt differently. Their sensitive star-shaped nose helps them to get food. With the tentacles of the nose, he searches for the victim, then firmly holds it with his front paws. The grip is very strong. Thanks to her, the starfish was recognized as one of the most skillful predators on the planet.
Character and lifestyle features
Star-nosed moles spend most of their time underground. They, like other relatives, are engaged in digging tunnels. These animals are able to create complex labyrinths with many chambers. Only small earthen mounds can give out their presence in a particular territory. In complex tunnels, animals make small chambers for themselves. In one of them they equip their hole. There, star-noses hide from enemies, are engaged in raising offspring.
Animals cover their hole with twigs, grass, dry plants. One of the exits of the burrow necessarily leads to a water source, where the star-bearers love to spend their time. This type of mole visits the reservoir several times a day. They are great swimmers and good divers. In winter, the star-bearer can be seen even under the thickness of the ice. These animals do not hibernate. In winter, they search for their food under the snow and actively hunt underwater inhabitants.
Interesting fact: Their anatomical features help them to be agile under water. They have strong, spade-shaped paws and a long tail. With their paws, they quickly sort through the water, and the tail is used as a rudder.
Starfish are quite balanced, social animals. They often create small colonies in which they exist peacefully and calmly. However, colonies often break up. Outside the mating season, males and females do not stop their communication, which is also surprising. This is not usually the case for members of the mole family.
Social Structure and Reproduction
The star-bearer can be safely called a monogamous creature. These animals find a mate in the colony, mate, raise offspring and continue their communication with each other. Even outside the mating season, females and males do not stop their family “relationships”. However, each adult has its own personal “freedom”. Each star-nosed mole has separate burrows, chambers for rest and life.
The mating season for these moles takes place once a year. It falls in the spring, but the exact timing in different regions of the natural habitat is different. So, in the north, the mating season begins in May, and in the south – from March. The mating season lasts only a few months. The female's pregnancy lasts up to forty-five days. At one time, the female bears four cubs. However, sometimes the offspring can reach seven babies in one pregnancy.
Starfish offspring are born completely defenseless, completely naked. At first, an unusual nose in the form of a star on the muzzle of moles is almost not noticeable. A distinctive feature of star-nosed babies is their rapid development. The crumbs can already lead an independent life after thirty days after birth. After thirty days, the animals fully adapt to the environment, switch to an adult diet, and actively explore nearby areas.
Natural enemies of starships
Starships are defenseless against most predators. This is mainly due to their active lifestyle. This species, unlike other representatives of moles, spends its time not only underground. Starfish travel a lot on the surface of the earth, diving and swimming in water bodies. On land and in water, these small animals face a lot of danger. In addition, their poor eyesight “plays” against moles. Animals simply do not see the approach of predators.
The most dangerous natural enemies of starfish include:
- birds of prey. Starfish are a favorite delicacy of large owls, eagles, hawks, eagle owls, falcons;
- martens, skunks;
- largemouth bass, large frogs.
Predators catch and eat small moles when they crawl in vegetation, go to a reservoir or swim in the water. In winter, predators got the hang of getting starfish from underground chambers. You can also call a natural enemy of a star-bearer a person. Humans rarely kill this animal, but do harm in other ways. Human settlements have significantly divided the natural habitat of these animals. But, fortunately, this did not affect the total number of starfishes so much.
Population and species status
Starfish have a small natural habitat. However, their numbers are absolutely stable. These animals have been assigned the status of Least Concern. The species is numerous. However, scientists note a slight decrease in the number of star-bearers. This is due to the influence of many factors.
Firstly, these animals are practically defenseless against predators. They are eaten by owls, eagle owls, falcons, martens and other animals with special pleasure. Secondly, the human impact negatively affects the population of the species. Plowing of land, development and development of territories have led to a decrease in the natural habitat.
Interesting fact: Starfish are very extravagant moles. They attract the attention of exotic lovers with their extraordinary appearance. However, starships are interesting not only for this. They are of great value to science. With their help, subtleties in the work of the senses are studied.
The star-nosed mole is a safe animal. It cannot be classified as a pest. It does not harm agriculture or other areas of human life. The life expectancy of such moles is relatively short. In the wild, starfish live no longer than four years. Only in captivity does life expectancy increase to seven years.
Starship is a unique and at the same time frightening creature. Their unusual star-shaped nose looks unattractive, but its properties are striking in their scale. Star-nosed moles are slowly declining in numbers, but the general population of the animal is not yet in danger.