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INSECTIVORE, TREE SHREW & ELEPHANT SHREW SPECIALIST GROUP


Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews:
Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan
Published 1995


Euroscaptor | E. grandis | E. klossi | E. longirostris | E. micrura | E. mizura | E. parvidens | Mogera | M. etigo | M. insularis | M. kobeae | M. minor | M. robusta | M. tokudae | M. wogura | Nesoscaptor uchidai | Parascaptor leucura | Scapanulus oweni | Scaptochirus moschatus | Scaptonyx fusicaudus | Talpa | T. altaica | T. caeca | T. caucasica | T. europaea | T. levantis | T. occidentalis | T. romana | T. stankovici | T. streeti | Urotrichus pilirostris | U. talpoides


Continued from previous page | Go to next page

Sub-family Talpinae


The sub-family Talpinae consists of nine genera with a total of 29 species. All representatives are fossorial, living in a wide range of habitats from lowland fertile plains to montane slopes at elevations up to 3000m. A number of threatened species are recognised in this subfamily: Euroscaptor mizura, E.parvidens, Mogera etigo, M. tokudae and Talpa streeti. All of these species are known only from single, or a few isolated locations. The single greatest threat to these, and other species of fossorial insectivores, is further habitat destruction, especially reclamation of lowland plains for intensive agriculture, and the clearance of forested hillsides for shifting cultivation. With increasing pressure to produce more food, the threats to these restricted species are likely to increase.


GENUS EUROSCAPTOR - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents


This genus consists of six species, all formerly assigned to Talpa by Corbet (1978). The current, revised presentation is based on Hutterer (1993).

Euroscaptor grandis - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Euroscaptor grandis Miller 1940.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: The range of this species is unclear because of identification problems. Specimens have been recorded from Central Sichuan Province (Omei Shan and Chengdu), as well as western Yunnan, China (Corbet, 1992). Hutterer (1993) also lists this species from north and south Bakbo and Cha-pa (Vietnam).

Euroscaptor klossi - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Euroscaptor klossi Thomas 1929.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: Highlands of Thailand, Laos and Peninsular Malaysia.

Ecology and behaviour: According to Cranbrook (1966) E. klossi makes shallow runs just under the surface, but may also construct deeper tunnels. Territory size has been suggested at 100-200sqm. E. klossi breeds once, rarely twice, each year with a litter size of 2-7. Gestation is about five weeks although delayed implantation has been reported (Lekagul and McNeely, 1977). Probably territorial, as T. europaea (see later), but no studies have been reported on this species.

Euroscaptor longirostris - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Euroscaptor longirostris Milne-Edwards 1870. Formerly included in E. micrura by Corbet (1978); but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: Sichuan and adjacent areas of South Shaanxi, East Qinghai and West Yunnan (China); North Vietnam.

Habitat: The preferred habitat of this species is not known. Its altitudinal range occurs from 1800-2900m.

Himalayan mole (Euroscaptor micrura) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Euroscaptor micrura Hodgson 1841. Several subspecies have been proposed on the basis of fur colour, but because of the tendency of museum specimens to fade (Cranbrook 1962), this has not been clarified. Too few specimens are available to judge geographic variation.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subeategory Least Concern).

Description: Thick dark brown fur with a silver gloss. Pointed snout with long naked nose pad grooved on the upper side. Tail is reduced and concealed by fur. Forelimbs lack fur and are prominent.

Distribution: This species occurs from the eastern Himalayas west probably as far as eastern Nepal. It is also known from isolated localities in Assam and Thailand.

Habitat: Recorded mostly at altitudes of 1000-2000m, but down to 100m in Bengal and Assam.

Japanese mountain mole (Euroscaptor mizura) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Euroscaptor mizura Gunther 1880. The subspecies othai is "probably a distinct species" (Imaizumi, 1970; see also Yoshiyuki, 1988).

IUCN Category of Threat: Vulnerable (Bl and 2c).

Description: A small, primitive mole with a head and body length of 79-107mm. The tail is relatively long, ranging from 23-26mm. The muzzle has a long triangular naked portion on the upper side. The colour of the pelage varies from brown to black.

Distribution: This species is confined to just a few isolated montane areas on Honshu, Japan.

Habitat: Forest and alpine grassland.

Ecology and behaviour: The diet of the Japanese mountain mole comprises insects, earthworms and centipedes. Other details of its behaviour are unknown.

Euroscaptor parvidens - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Euroscaptor parvidens Miller 1940. Formerly included in E. micrura or P. leucura; but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Critically Endangered (Bl and 2c).

Distribution: This species is only known from the type locality, Di Linh, Vietnam, and Rakho on the Chinese border.


GENUS MOGERA - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents


This genus, with seven species recognised here, was formerly included in Talpa (Corbet, 1978), but see Hutterer (1993).

Mogera etigo - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Mogera etigo Yoshiyuki and Imaizumi 1991. Formerly included in M. tokudae, but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Endangered (Bl and 2c).

Distribution: This species has only been recorded from Niigata (formerly Echigo Plain), Honshu, Japan.

Mogera insularis - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Mogera insularis Swinhoe 1863. Corbet (1978) and Hutterer (1993) include M. latouchei (occurs in south-east China, Hainan) as a subspecies, but see Abe (1988) and Abe et al., (1991).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Near Threatened).

Distribution: This species has only been recorded from Taiwan and Hainan (south-east China).

Mogera kobeae - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Mogera kobeae Thomas 1905. Considered a subspecies of M. robusta by Corbet (1978), but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: Kyushu, Shikoku and the southern region of Honshu, Japan.

Mogera minor - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Mogera minor Kuroda 1936. Considered a subspecies of M. wogera by Corbet (1978), but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Body size varies considerably according to location, but is generally small compared to M. wogura. Head and body length range from 121-159mm; body weight is 48-127g. Forward projecting degree of the upper incisor row is large and the row is V-shaped.

Distribution: Northern half of Honshu, Japan. Several small, relict populations occur in mountainous regions of the southern half of Honshu and in Shikoku.

Habitat: Low-lying wet plains appear to be the preferred habitat of this species, but it also survives in montane forests (Abe, pers. comm.).

Ecology and behaviour: M. minor feeds on a wide range of insects, earthworms, leeches, spiders, centipedes and plant seeds. Litter size ranges from 2-6, with an average of 3.6. Maximum longevity is about 3.5 years (Abe, pers. comm.).

Greater mole (Mogera robusta) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Mogera robusta Nehring 1891. Includes M. coreana; formerly included kobeae and tokudae (Corbet, 1978), but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: This species ranges from the Amur (Russian Federation) and Ussuri (China) rivers south through Manchuria to Korea.

Sado mole (Mogera tokudae) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Mogera tokudae Kuroda 1940. Considered a subspecies of M. robusta by Corbet (1978), but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Endangered (Bl and 2c).

Description: General external appearance is similar to Mogera minor, but the body size is much larger; head and body length is 153-182mm and body weight is 95-164g. Upper incisor row is V-shaped and markedly projected forward.

Distribution: This species is found only on Sado Island and part of Niigata (formerly Echigo Plain), in Honshu, Japan.

Habitat: The Sado mole prefers wet plains with soft, deep soil. The peripheral population of M. tokudae in Niigata confronts, with a sharp line of boundary demarcation, that of M. minor. In spite of the very large body size (twice that of M. minor), M. tokudae is ecologically inferior to M. minor and the peripheral population abutting that of M. minor in Niigata is retreating with the expansion of the range of the smaller M. minor (Abe, pers. comm.). Interspecific competition may therefore eliminate M. tokudae from Honshu, although it may remain on Sado Island, where there are no potential competitors.

Ecology and behaviour: This species feeds on earthworms, insects, centipedes, leeches and plant seeds. Litter size ranges from 2-6, with an average of three (Abe, pers. comm.).

Japanese mole (Mogera wogura) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Mogera wogura Temminck 1842. Formerly included M. minor; but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Body size varies geographically: head and body length ranges from 125-185mm; body weight from 48-175g. Forward projecting degree of the upper incisor row is small and the shape of the row is rounded arc-like.

Distribution: This species ranges from the Ussuri and Amur rivers through Manchuria and Korea to the southern half of the main islands of Japan, southern Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, Oki, Tsushima, Goto, Yaku and Tanegashima (Abe, pers. comm.).

Habitat: The Japanese mole prefers wet grassy plains with deep, soft soils.

Ecology and behaviour: This species is solitary and active throughout the day. It feeds on a variety of insects, earthworms, amphibians and plant seeds. Females bearing 3-5 embryos have been found from April to June. The maximum longevity in the wild is 3.5 years (Abe, pers. comm.).

GENUS NESOSCAPTOR - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

This recently described monotypic genus is of uncertain affinities within the Talpinae.

Ryukyu mole (Nesoscaptor uchidai) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Nesoscaptor uchidai Abe, Shiraishi and Arai 1991.

IUCN Category of Threat: Endangered (Bl and 2c).

Distribution: This species has only recently been described from the Ryuku islands, Senkaku islands and the west coast of Uotsuri-jima, Japan (Abe et al., 1991).

Habitat: The preferred habitat of this species is not known.

Ecology and Behaviour: A newly described species, the behaviour of N. uchidai awaits further investigation.

GENUS PARASCAPTOR - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

This monotypic genus was formerly included in Talpa; see Hutterer (1993).

Parascaptor leucura - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Parascaptor leucura Blyth 1850. Previously classified as T. micrura by Ellerman and Morrison-Scott (1 95 1), but see Corbet (1 978) and Hutterer (1 993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: Assam (India), Myanmar and Yunnan (China).

Habitat: Montane forests at an altitudinal range of 1000-2500m.

GENUS SCAPANULUS - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

The genus Scapanulus is represented by a single species, the Gansu mole (S. oweni) which is restricted to China.

Gansu mole (Scapanulus oweni) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Scapanulus oweni Thomas 1912.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subeategory Least Concern).

Description: The moles of this genus show certain structural features similar to those of North American moles of the genera Scapanus and Scalopus in the reduction of the upper canines and enlargement of the anterior incisors. The external appearance of Scapanulus is mole-like, but the forelimbs, although broader than in Scaptonyx, are not as wide proportionately as in Talpa. The claws of the Gansu mole are slender, but long and flattened. The snout is rather long, tapering and grooved on the underside. Body length ranges from 98-108mm and the tail length is approximately 35-38mm. The tail is relatively thick and covered in fur. The general colour is drab grey, with a silvery appearance. Individual hairs are actually slate grey with brown tips.

Distribution: The single species in this genus has only been recorded from the provinces of South Gansu, East Qinghai, south-west Shaanxi and North Sichuan (China).

Habitat: This species appears to prefer a montane habitat, having been recorded at altitudes between 2700-3000m.

Ecology and behaviour: The habits of these moles have not been recorded. Only about six specimens exist in museums.

GENUS SCAPTOCHIRUS - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

The genus Scaptochirus is represented by just a single species, the short-faced mole (S. moschatus) which is only found in China.


Short-faced mole (Scaptochirus moschatus) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Scaptochirus moschatus Milne-Edwards 1867. This species was placed in the genus Talpa by Corbet (1978), but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: This is a distinctive species, characterised by reduced premolars above and below (3/3) and a very short, wide rostrum. It also has an especially soft, lustrous pelage.

Distribution: This species occurs in north-eastern China from where it ranges south to about 36ON. It has been recorded from the following provinces: Hopei, Shantung, Shansi and Shensi. Fossil evidence has been recorded from the Holocene cave site at Shenxian, Jiangxi Province, South China and from the Lower Pleistocene period in Sichuan.

Habitat: The preferred habitat of this species is unknown.

Ecology and behaviour: No details of the behaviour of this species in the wild are available at the present time.



GENUS SCAPTONYX - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

The genus Scaptonyx is represented in China and Myanmar by a single species - the long-tailed mole (S. fusicaudus). Little is known about this species.

Long-tailed mole (Scaptonyx fusicaudus) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Scaptonyx fusicaudus Milne-Edwards 1872. A single subspecies, S.f affinis Thomas, has been described from north-west Yunnan, China.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: The general body form is mole-like, with the forefeet only slightly broadened, but bearing stout digging claws. The ears are very much reduced in size and well concealed within the dense fur. The tail is short and thick, and thinly covered with short stiff hairs. Body length is approximately 65-90mm and tail length about one-third this length. Fur is soft and velvety in texture; the hairs are dark slate in colour, with brown tips.

Distribution: The single species in this genus has been recorded in China - Shaanxi, East Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan - and northern Myanmar.

Habitat: Montane habitat at altitudes of 2100-4100m.

Ecology and behaviour: Nothing is known about the ecology of this species.

GENUS TALPA - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

In the Old World, the genus Talpa consists of nine species which are distributed throughout temperate Eurasia. Talpa is the most widespread genus within the Family Talpidae, with representative species ranging from western Europe through Asia and south into the Indomalayan Region. All members of this genus are adapted for a fossorial lifestyle; external bodily appendages are severely reduced and the body shape is almost cylindrical, tapering in a pointed snout. A short, usually sparsely furred tail is present. Forelimbs are highly developed, modified to loosen and excavate earth in the process of tunnel formation. All species create a complex, threedimensional layer of interconnecting tunnels. These provide shelter from the elements, reduce predation but, most importantly, act as a food trap for earthworms and insect larvae which migrate through the soil column.

Siberian mole (Talpa altaica) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa altaica Nikolsky 1883.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Elongate body with uniformly short, usually black, fur. Prominent features are the broad, spade-like forelimbs, pink fleshy snout and short tail. Ear pinnae are absent. The tapering head is set deeply into the main body giving the appearance of the absence of a proper neck. Seldom seen on the surface and unlikely to be confused with other species. Body length of T altaica 136-203mm. The fur in this species is relatively long with a brownish hue on the back.

Distribution: The taiga zone of Siberia between the rivers Ob/lrtysh and Lena, reaching north along the Yenesei river to 70'N and south to northern Mongolia.

Mediterranean/Blind mole (Talpa caeca) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa caeca Savi 1822.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: Parts of Iberia, southern side of the Alps, Balkans, Thracia (Greece); perhaps Asia Minor.

Ecology and behaviour: Unknown, probably similar to T. europaea. This species is marginally sympatric with T. europaea in the Alps.

Caucasian mole (Talpa caucasica) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa caucasica Satunin 1908. Included in T. europaea by Ellerman and Morrison-Scott (1951) and by Kuzyakin (1965), but considered a distinct species by Gromov et al., (1963) and by Kozlovsky et al., (1972), the latter authors basing their view on karyological data (Corbet, 1978).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: As for T. altaica. Fur is short and of a uniform length. Eyes completely covered with delicate thin skin.

Distribution: Northern side of the Caucasus, from the Sea of Azov to the Caspian Sea.

European mole (Talpa europaea) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa europaea Linnaeus 1758.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Generally as for T. altaica. Fur is short and of a uniform length. See Godfrey and Crowcroft (1978) for general description.


Talpa europaea

The European mole (Talpa europaea) is one of the few insectivores to have been hunted for its fur. Changing agricultural practices are a threat to several species of fossorial insectivores. (Photo by David Stone)

Distribution: Widespread throughout Europe except for Ireland, Scandinavia (except southern Sweden) and parts of Mediterranean coastline. In the east it ranges throughout Russia to as far as the rivers Oh and Irtish.

Habitat: The European mole is an adaptable species and is present in most habitats where the soil is sufficiently deep to allow tunnel construction. Originally inhabitants of deciduous woodlands (in western Europe), moles have taken advantage of agricultural developments and thrive in pasture and arable lands which support high densities of soil invertebrates, especially earthworms. May occur in coniferous forests, but usually have much larger ranges. Rarely found on moorland, sand dunes and similar poor soils. Found up to 2000m in the Alps.

Ecology and behaviour: The European mole is specialised to a fossorial life, constructing a permanent series of tunnels in which the animal may spend its entire lifetime. Active day and night; in some cases with a cycle of 3-4 hours activity and 3-4 hours rest. Structured system of social and spatial organization under certain conditions. This species is widely persecuted in parts of its range -where it interferes with agriculture, particularly cereals and market gardening activities (see Stone, 1989). The impacts of such events are restricted to a local or regional scale. This species has been relatively well studied in the wild; see Godfrey and Crowcroft (1960), Stone (1986) and Gorman and Stone (1990) for reviews.

Levant mole (Talpa levantis) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa levantis Thomas 1906. Formerly considered a subspecies of T. caeca by Corbet (1978); but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: Bulgaria, Thracia (Greece), North Anatolia (Turkey) and adjacent Caucasus.

Iberian mole (Talpa occidentalis) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa occidentalisThomas 1902. Formerly considered a subspecies of T. caeca by Corbet (1978); but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: West and Central Iberian Peninsula.

Roman mole (Talpa romana) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa romana Thomas 1902. Formerly included T. stankovici; but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Similar to T. europaea.

Distribution: Appenine region of Italy, and extreme south-eastern France; formerly Sicily.

Habitat: The preferred habitat of this species is grassland and woodland.

Ecology and behaviour: From preliminary field data the social behaviour of this species appears somewhat similar to that of T. europaea (Loy, Dupré and Stone, 1992).

Balkan mole (Talpa stankovici) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa stankovici V. and E. Martino 1931. Formerly considered a subspecies of T. romana by Corbet (1978), but see Hutterer (1993).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: European Balkans, Greece (including Corfu Island), Macedonia and probably Albania.

Persian mole (Talpa streeti) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Talpa streeti Lay 1965

IUCN Category of Threat: Critically Endangered (BI and 2c)

Description: Very similar in appearance to T. romana but the teeth appear distinctive. Only the type specimen exists.

Distribution: Known only from the type locality, Hezer Darrak in Kurdistan Province, north-west Iran.

GENUS UROTRICHUS - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Two species are recognised in this genus: U. pilirostris and U. talpoides. Both are restricted to Japan where they occur in montane habitats, particularly regions of coniferous forest up to 2000m. Both species are reported to be plentiful but do not occur on the plains.

Lesser Japanese shrew-mole (Urotrichus pilirostris) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Urotrichus pilirostris True 1886.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Shrew-like in appearance: the forelimbs are only slightly broadened, ears are present but are small and concealed within the fur. The tail is also densely covered in coarse hairs and is often enlarged with fat. The fur is soft and dense but coarser in texture than other talpids. Fur colour varies from dark brown to black, with a metallic sheen in reflected light. Body length measures 40-84mm with a tail length of 32-44mm (Abe, pers. comm.). This species burrows extensively in soil as well as under leaf litter.

Distribution: This montane species is found on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, Japan.

Habitat: Montane coniferous forest at high altitudes. When two species of shrew-moles occur on the same mountainside, U. pilirostris is always found at higher altitudes (Abe, pers. comm.).

Ecology and behaviour: The diet of this species consists of insects, spiders, worms and other invertebrates. Shrewmoles breed in April and May and the average litter size is three. The gestation period is not known. Little else is known about the ecology of this species.

Greater Japanese shrew-mole (Urotrichus talpoides) - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Taxonomy: Urotrichus talpoides Temminck 1841.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Similar in external appearance to U. pilirostris, but slightly larger body with a shorter tail.

Distribution: This species is restricted to the Japanese islands of Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, Dogo and North Tsushima.

Habitat: Forest and grasslands at low altitude.

Ecology and behaviour: The diet mainly consists of insects, earthworms and centipedes. Maximum life span appears to be 3.5 years. Greater shrew-moles breed from March to May. The litter size ranges from 2-4, with an average of 3.1 (Abe, pers. comm.). This species burrows just beneath the surface but U. talpoides has also been recorded foraging on the surface and even observed to climb low bushes. In winter this species is often found dead in bird nest boxes in trees at heights of 2-4m above the ground. It is likely, however, that these specimens have been carried there by avian or small terrestrial predators.




CITATION:
IUCN. 1995. Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews - Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. (Compiled by Stone, R. David, IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group). IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. vii + 164 pp. ISBN 2-8317-0062-0


Online version: http://members.vienna.at/shrew/itsesAP95-cover.html

Copyright © 1995 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources


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