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


Go to advanced search

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

Image of Eastern Mole

Eastern Mole Photo 1

Top

Description

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. (Updated 2017/06/06)

Top

Distribution and Population

The Eastern Mole has the largest range of any mole species in North America. It occurs in most eastern and central states of the U.S., in extreme southern Canada, and in northern Mexico. In Canada, the species is restricted to southern Ontario, specifically three municipalities in Essex County, Ontario (Towns of Essex and Kingsville and the Municipality of Leamington) and the western portion of Romney Township in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. (Updated 2017/06/06)

Top

Habitat

Throughout its range, the Eastern Mole occupies a variety of habitats ranging from open woodlands to open fields, where the soil is sufficiently soft to allow tunnel construction. In Ontario, Eastern Moles are most frequently found in loam or sandy loam soils in forested areas, and along wooded or brushy hedgerows, water courses or open drains, where the soil is stone-free, coarse-textured, and generally fast-draining. In open habitat, mole tunnels generally radiate out from shady areas; cultivated fields are rarely used. Approximately 929 ha of potential habitat is estimated to occur in Canada. (Updated 2017/06/06)

Top

Biology

Eastern Moles are mostly solitary and occupy relatively stable home ranges year-round. They excavate two types of tunnels: near-surface tunnels, which are used for foraging, and deep permanent gallery tunnels; digging the latter may produce the characteristic molehills, or “pushups”. Males have larger home ranges (1.1 ha) than females (0.3 ha). The species likely has a polygynous mating system with breeding occurring after the first year. Breeding occurs once a year with the timing being later at northern latitudes. Mating takes place in late March-early April, and a litter of 2-5 young moles is produced in late April or early May. Moles feed on a wide variety of invertebrates, including earthworms, larvae and adult beetles, ants and vegetable matter (including mycorrhizal fungi). Because they live a largely subterranean existence, they are usually at low risk of predation, unless predators (e.g., snakes, weasels) enter or dig up tunnels (canids), or flooding or juvenile dispersal causes moles to come to the surface (where they are vulnerable to raptors and other predators). (Updated 2017/06/06)

Top

Threats

The range of the Eastern Mole in Canada is likely limited by suitable soil types. Lands with suitable soils have been extensively modified or converted to intensive agriculture and residential development, with only a small percentage remaining that contains sufficient vegetative cover to provide suitable habitat. Habitat patches are frequently small and surrounded by unsuitable habitat. Eastern Moles likely have limited ability to move large distances across inhospitable habitat, resulting in isolation of populations in proximity to forest patches. (Updated 2017/06/06)

Top

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.

Top

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 31, 2017