Star-nosed mole

The star-like tentacles on the nose are not just for looks; they can detect electrical fields to locate their prey

US National Parks Service

Star-nosed mole


The star-like tentacles on the nose are not just for looks; they can detect electrical fields to locate their prey


Native to wetland areas of North America, this small mammal is most easily identified by its unique snout, adorned with 11 pairs of fleshy, pink tentacles radiating outward, resembling a star. This peculiar adaptation, along with its dense black pelage and powerful digging claws, equips the Star-nosed mole for life both under the earth and water.

The star-shaped tentacles are not just for show; they are a highly evolved sensory apparatus that sets the Star-nosed mole apart from other mole species. Each tentacle is covered in more than 25,000 touch receptors, known as Eimer’s organs, making it one of the most sensitive touch organs in the animal kingdom. This incredible sensitivity allows the mole to detect, identify, and decide on potential food items in just milliseconds, making it one of the fastest foragers among mammals.

The ability to touch up to 12 objects per second compensates for the mole’s poorly developed eyesight, relying heavily on tactile and olfactory senses to navigate and find food. Remarkably, the Star-nosed mole has also adapted the ability to smell underwater – a feat achieved by exhaling air bubbles onto objects or scent trails and then inhaling them to identify potential prey. This unique method of olfaction is a testament to the mole’s evolutionary adaptations to its semi-aquatic lifestyle.

Star-nosed Moles inhabit wetlands, including marshes, wet meadows, and the edges of streams and ponds across northeastern United States and Canada. Their habitat choice reflects their dietary preferences and foraging behavior. As opportunistic feeders, their diet primarily consists of small invertebrates, aquatic insects, worms, and small fish found within their wetland environment.


Population est.
United States

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Colony

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No