Scapanus orarius
(Coast Mole)

Order: Insectivora
Order Description: Insectivores
Family: Talpidae
Family Description: Mole

Idaho's only mole, the coast mole, is found from southwestern British Columbia, south through western Washington and Oregon to coastal northwestern California. It is also found in parts of eastern Washington and Oregon, and extreme west-central Idaho.

Moles are fossorial, or burrowing mammals, and are well adapted to this existence. Their fur is short, black and like velvet. It allows them to tightly move through the soil without offering resistance. Their ears are not visible as they exist as small openings covered by hair (probably to prevent them from being plugged by soil). Coast moles are small, total length is 6 to 7 inches (147-175 mm), tail length is 1 to 1 ¾ inches (26-43 mm). Their tail is nearly hairless as is their snout, which appears pinkish.

It is found in agricultural land, coastal dunes, grassy meadows, coniferous and deciduous Click word for definitionforests and woodlands, and along streams.

Like most moles, their diet is dominated by earthworms. Other common food items include adult and larval insects and other invertebrates such as snails and slugs.

The coast mole is active throughout year. Moles are fossorial Click word for definition, living much of their life underground in burrows, but are occasionally active on surface. Dispersing juveniles move across the surface during the summer. They are solitary except when breeding, probably with only one mole per burrow system. Population density is highly variable, ranging from 1 per ¼ acre (0.10 ha) to 1 per 35 acres (14 ha). If their habitat is flooded, they tend to quickly recolonize the area. Their maximum longevity is probably about 4 to 5 years. Their average home range has been estimated at 0.3 acre (0.12 ha). Predation on moles may be fairly low because of their fossorial Click word for definitionhabits.

Coast moles breed from January to early March. Birth occurs in late March or early April and litter size varies from 2 to 4 young. Females, which are sexually mature at 9 to10 months, produce 1 litter Click word for definitionper year.

Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1

Important State References:
Caswell, E. B. 1953. A mole from Idaho. Murrelet 34.9 Yensen, E., D.A. Stephens, and M. Post. 1986. An additional Idaho mole record. Murrelet 67:96

Information written by Donald Streubel,© 2000
Map image provided by
Stephen Burton,© 2000
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.