Southern marsupial mole

Functionally blind and without external ears, they “swim” through the soil, leaving no permanent burrow

A mysterious and enigmatic creature, it is one of the two known species of marsupial moles alongside its counterpart, the Northern marsupial mole. Both species are exclusive inhabitants of the vast, arid landscapes of inner Australia, where they have carved a niche existence far removed from the prying eyes of the world.

One of the most striking aspects of the Southern marsupial mole is its vestigial eyes. Given their life spent predominantly in darkness, burrowing through the sand in search of food, visual perception holds no advantage. As a result, their eyes have become functionally inactive over generations, rendering them completely blind. This lack of vision is compensated by highly developed other senses, which guide them in navigating their underground realm and locating prey. Similarly, their ears are not like those found in surface-dwelling animals; instead, they have tiny fur-covered holes that minimize sand ingress while allowing them to detect vibrations and sounds in their environment.

The Southern marsupial mole’s behavior of constantly refilling its burrow trail as it moves through the sand is an ingenious tactic. This not only helps to maintain the structural integrity of their tunnels but also makes it exceedingly difficult for predators and researchers alike to track their movements.

Classifying the conservation status of the Southern marsupial mole has proved to be a formidable challenge for scientists and conservationists. Their secretive lifestyle, coupled with the inhospitable terrain they inhabit, has made it nearly impossible to gather accurate data on their population numbers and trends. The assumption that they may be endangered stems from the limited sightings and encounters reported, as well as the general threats facing their habitats, such as climate change, habitat disturbance, and the potential for predation.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Australia
10,000 – 100,000
LC
2014

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No