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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sado Mole - Rare Or Evasive?

Like most people on the planet, I've never seen a mole. No, not those things on a face or elsewhere, but rather those four-legged below-ground tunnelers that are as blind as a bat.

Apparently Japan has a mole.

Known as the Sado mole, or Tokuda's mole, this critter is listed on the Endangered species list, with a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

The image above (taken from Wikipedia, but supplied by Daderot), appears to be the only photograph of the Sado Mole out there on-line. And, as you can see, it's for a dead specimen, at the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.

Found only on a tiny island, known as Sado Island, the mammalian Moera tokudae species is threatened… but merely because of a technicality.

The mole is listed as threatened because its 'extent of occurrence'  is less than 1,000 km2 (because it is only found on the tiny Sado Island)… but apparently the buggers are common enough on the island, so don't worry.

Having said that, there has been a decline in population owing to a reduction in the quality of its habitat.

The island actually seems quite large... and since this is an underground dwelling mole, how do we know how many Sado Moles there really are?

On Sado Island, it has no main predators, and can be found in habitats that include temperate forest, scrubland, grassland and cultivated fields… basically, the Sado mole wasn't so ken on humans cultivating lands for fields, but it is adapting.

Data above is mostly from the IUCN Red List (…

So… how many are there still alive? What are its distinguishing features? How is this mole different from any other mole I've not seen? What does it eat? How long does it live? How does it reproduce? Can it understand Japanese?

So… IUCN Red List - thanks for mostly nothing, but it is indeed better than nothing.

Discovered in 1940, the Sado mole is thought to be a sub-species of Mogera robusta (also known as the Greater mole) that was first described in 1891, living in Russia's Amur area, China's Ussiuri area, and river areas around Manchuria and Korea.

Size-wise, the Sado mole is similar in general external appearance to something called the Mogera minor, but it has a much larger body - twice as large.

Head and body length: 153mm - 182mm
Weight: 95-164 grams.
Teeth: Upper incisor row is V-shaped and projected forward
For reference, here is a Mogera imaizumii type Japanese mole in a cut-away of the ground, seen here moving along one of its tunnels:

The Sado mole seems to prefer wet plains with soft, deep soil.

It eats earthworms, centipedes, leeches, insects and plant seeds.

Birth: litter of pups consists of 2 to 6, average three litters per lifetime.

Anyhow, finding information on the little bugger is as elusive as seeing one in real life. Seriously… either no one has released this data on-line, or the Sado Mole is camera shy.

Andrew Joseph


  1. If you remember your facts from Daredevil bats are not blind. That's a myth.

    1. I actually wrote this before Daredevil came out - weeks ago - I just forgot to post it. I should have changed that fact in this story, but I hate editing my own work.