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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Chrysochloridae (golden moles)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals) > Placentalia (placental mammals) > Afrotheria > Afrosoricida

The common name of the golden mole is derived from the characteristic iridescent sheen of the rich fur of the animal. They are specially adapted for a burrowing mode of life. Their bodies are compact and streamlined, a without external ear pinnae and no visible tail. The head is wedge-shaped and the skin is thick and tough. The minute eyes have almost been lost and are covered with skin. A leathery pad on the snout that aids with soil excavations protects the nostrils. The ear ossicles are very large, providing great sensitivity to vibrations in the surrounding soil, both for the detection of food and approaching danger. The muscular head and shoulders push and pack the soil and the strong forelimbs have large claws for digging. Three of the four digits have elongated claws with the third being particularly powerful.

Golden moles are solitary each maintaining their own burrow system. They burrow just below the soil surface forming ridges, these are thought to be for foraging. These surface runs gives rise to one of their popular names amongst the gardening fraternity - “runner moles”. They also excavate deeper permanent burrows as refuges and for nesting where the excess soil is deposited on the surface as molehills.

The golden moles are not related to mole-rats. The latter are herbivorous rodents and have small, visible eyes, short tails and massively developed chisel-like incisor teeth. The Golden moles have small pointed teeth, typical of an insectivore.

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Subfamily: Chrysochlorinae


Chrysospalax trevelyani (Giant golden mole)


Chrysospalax villosus (Rough-haired golden mole)


Cryptochloris wintoni (De Winton's golden mole)


Cryptochloris zyli (Van Zyl's golden mole)


Chrysochloris asiatica (Cape golden mole)

Endemic to the Western Cape. Feed on insects and other invertebrates. Commonly encountered in Cape Town gardens where their burrowing just below the ground leaves a path of broken, raised soil. Sometimes fall into swimming pools.


Chrysochloris visagiei (Visagie's golden mole)


Eremitalpa granti (Grant's golden mole)


Carpitalpa arendsi (Arends'golden mole)


Chlorotalpa duthieae (Duthie's golden mole)


Chlorotalpa sclateri (Sclater's golden mole)


Subfamily: Amblysominae


Calcochloris ohtusirostris (Yellow golden mole)


Neamblysomus gunningi (Gunning's golden mole)


Neamblysomus julianae (Juliana's golden mole)


Amblysomus corriae (Fynbos golden mole)


Amblysomus septentrionalis (Highveld golden mole)


Amlysomus hottentotus (Hottentot golden mole)


Amblysomus marleyi (Marley's golden mole)


Amblysomus robustus (Robust golden mole)