The Back Yard Zoo by Jim Dunlap

Jim Dunlap     What`s the first thing you know? Is it a pygmy elephant that is really pygmy? Is it a soon-to-be ping-pong champion? Will it grow up to be a high paid hand model? Not so, subterranean breath, it is a good old East Texas mole.

     He is a small burrowing mammal with shovel-like front feet. There are no visible eyes and his mouth stays parallel to the ground. That is really strange if you stop to think about it. He is a rusty brown color and silly looking enough to appear on Letterman. He spends most of his life underground in tunnels he digs himself, or he will chase gophers out of theirs. His underground condo is usually split level. The upper network of tunnels is used for gathering food. The lower, deeper tunnels are used for protection and raising kids. He goes the way of the earthworm so he may be active most of the day to find a meal. He also eats insect larvae and really relishes grubworms. He could win an eating contest because he can consume about sixty-six percent of his body weight in less than eighteen hours. Homeowners and golf green keepers don't care much for him. He actually does more good than harm because he eats insect pests and his burrowing activity areates the soil.

     He is a solitary animal until mating season occurs in February. A single litter is born per year numbering two to four hairless miniatures of the adult. Our hairless miniatures came to us from Mt. Pleasant in East Texas. I think the homeowner let a roto-tiller get away from him and he missed the buried gas line but hit the mole nest! The rehabilitation literature offers no help because there has never been a case where the babies have survived away from their mother. We will give it our best shot.

     In answer to that first question, "Ole Jed`s a millionaire!"


Jim Dunlap, jim.dunlap@pisd.edu


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