The Velvet Sausage
A perceptive 12-year-old on a school trip once described a mole we found as a black velvet sausage. It seemed to me to be a vivid description of the creature that is so familiar to us all and yet which so few have seen alive.
Living almost entirely underground, it’s not surprising that this small mammal has developed so many special adaptations to help overcome the problems presented by its chosen niche in life.
To create its own subterranean home range the largely solitary mole has to dig out a system of tunnels. Especially powerful forelegs with huge spade-like feet do the necessary work with astonishing ease and at great speed. I remember attempting to stop a mole from tunnelling back into the soil after a quick above-ground trip. It disappeared within seconds despite my gentle yet firm attempts to prevent it, so powerful was its technique.
On another occasion I discovered a great way to delay its disappearing trick long enough for some amazed onlookers of a guided walk to view its business end. By scooping it up into a plastic carrier bag the mole become decidedly disorientated as it systemically dug holes in the bottom of the suspended bag. After each assault it stopped momentarily on discovering nothing but thin air, displaying its gigantic claws and large pig-like snout.