69            Common Star-nose Mole

                           CONDYLURA CRISTATA.--Linn.

                            COMMON STAR-NOSED MOLE.
                               [Star-nosed Mole]

                                  PLATE LXIX.

     C. naribus carunculatus; cauda corpora breviore; vellus obscure cinereo,
nigricans, subtus dilutior.

     Nostrils, surrounded by a circle of membraneous processes; tail, shorter
than the body; colour, brownish black above, a shade lighter beneath.


     SOREX CRISTATUS, Linn., Ed. 12, p. 73.
     LONG-TAILED MOLE, Pennant's Hist. Quad., vol. ii., p. 232 to 90, f. 2.
     LONG-TAILED MOLE, Pennant's Arct. Zool., vol. i., p. 140.
     TALPA LONGICAUDATA ERX. Syst., tom. i., p. 188.
     LONG-TAILED MOLE, Condylura a lonquequeue, Desm. Mamm., f. i., p. 158.
     LONG-TAILED MOLE, Condylura cristata, Harlan, p. 36.
     LONG-TAILED MOLE, Godm. vol. i., p, 100.
     LONG-TAILED MOLE, C. macroura, Harlan, p. 39.
     LONG-TAILED MOLE, C. longicaudata, Richardson Fauna, p. 13; C. macroura,
       p. 234.
     LONG-TAILED MOLE, C. cristata, De Kay, N. Hist. N. Y., p. 12.


     In the upper jaw there are two large incisive teeth hollowed in front in
the shape of a spoon.  The next tooth on each side is long, pointed, conical,
with two tubercles, one before and the other behind at the base, resembling in
all its characters a canine tooth:  these are succeeded by five small molars on
each side, the posterior one being the largest.  There are three true molars on
each side, with two acute tubercles on the inner side--the first or anterior of
these molars is the largest, the second a little smaller, and the third or
posterior one the smallest.  In the lowerjaw there are four large incisors,
spoon shaped, and bearing a strong resemblance to those in the upper jaw.  The
next on each side are tolerably long sharp, conical teeth, corresponding with
those above which we have set down as canine.  The four succeeding teeth on each
side, which may be regarded as false molars, are lobed and increase in size as
they approach the true molars; the three molars on each side resemble those
above, having two folds of enamel forming a point.
     In the shape of its body this species bears a considerable resemblance to
the Common Mole of Europe (Talpa Europea) and to BREWER's Shrew Mole (Scalops
Brewerii); in the indications on the nose, however, it differs widely from both.
The body is cylindrical, about as stout as that of our Common Shrew Mole, and
has the appearance of being attached to the head without any distinct neck.
Muzzle, slender and elongated, terminated with a cartilaginous fringe which
originated its English name--the Star--nosed Mole.  This circular disk is
composed of twenty cartilaginous fibres, two of which situated beneath the
nostrils are shortest.  The eyes are very small.  Moustaches, few and short.
There is an orifice in place of an external ear, which does not project beyond
the skin.  Fore feet, loner and narrower than those of the Common Shrew, feet
longer and narrower than those of the Common Mole; palms, naked, covered with
scales; claws, flattened, acute, channelled beneath; hind extremities longer
than the fore ones, placed far back; feet nearly naked, scaly; tail,
subcylindrical, sparingly covered with coarser hair.  It is clothed with dense
soft fur.


     Eyes, black; nose and feet, flesh colour; point of nails and end of
cartilaginous fringe, roseate.  The fur on the whole body, dark plumbeous at the
roots, and without any annulations, deepening towards the apex into a brownish
black.  In some shades of light the Star Nose appears perfectly black
throughout.  On the under surface it is a shade lighter.  In the colour of the
feet we have seen some variations:  a specimen before us, has dark brown feet,
another pale ashy brown, and a third yellowish white; the majority of specimens,
however, have their feet brownish white.  One specimen is marked under the chin,
throat and neck with light yellowish brown, the others are darker in those

     From point of nose to root of tail .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     5
     Tail .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     3
     From heel to end of claw  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     7/8
     Breadth of palm  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     3/8


     As far as we have been able to ascertain, the habits of this species do not
differ very widely from those of our Common Shrew Mole.  We doubt, however,
whether its galleries ever run to so great a distance as those of the latter
animal, nor does it appear to be in the habit of visiting high grounds.  It
burrows and forms galleries under ground, and appears to be able to make rapid
progress in soft earth.  Its food is of the same nature as that of the Common
Mole, and it appears to prefer the vicinity of brooks or swampy places,
doubtless because in such localities earth worms and the larvae of various
insects are generally abundant.
     The proper use of the radiating process at the end of the nose has not been
fully ascertained, but as the animal has the power of moving these tendrils in
various directions, they maybe useful in its search after worms or other prey,
as is the moveable snout of the Shrew Mole.  When confined in a box, or on the
floor of a room, this Mole feeds on meat of almost any kind.  It is not as
strong as the Common Mole, nor as injurious to the farmer, since it avoids
cultivated fields, and confines itself to meadows and low swampy place
     During the rutting season the tail of the Star-nosed Mole is greatly
enlarged, which circumstance caused Dr. HARLAN to describe a specimen taken at
that season as a new species, under the name Condylura macroura.
     Dr. GODMAN's account of the abundance of this species does not coincide
with our own experience on this subject.  He says, "In many places it is
scarcely possible to advance a step without breaking down their galleries, by
which the surface is thrown into ridges and the surface of the green sward in no
slight degree disfigured.  "We have sometimes supposed that he might have
mistaken the galleries of tile Common Shrew Mole for those made by the
Star-Nose, as to us it has always appeared a rare species in every part of our
     In a few localities where we were in the habit, many years ago, of
obtaining the Star-nosed Mole, it was always found on the banks of rich meadows
near running streams.  The galleries did not run so near the surface as those of
the Common Shrew Mole.  We caused one of the galleries to be dug out, and
obtained a nest containing three young, apparently a week old.  The radiations
on the nose were so slightly developed that until we carefully examined them we
supposed they were the young of the Common Shrew Mole.  The nest was spacious,
composed of withered grasses, and situated in a large excavation under a stump.
The old ones had made their escape, and we endeavoured to preserve the young;
but the want of proper nourishment caused their death in a couple of days.
     The specimen of the Star-nosed Mole, from which our plate was drawn, was
sent to us by our highly esteemed friend JAMES G. KING, Esq., having been
captured on a moist piece of ground at his country scat in New Jersey, opposite
the city of New-York.

                           GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.

     This species is found sparingly in all the northern and eastern states.
Dr. RICHARDSON supposes it to exist as far north as Lake Superior.  We obtained
a specimen five miles from the Falls of Niagara, on the Canada side, and have
traced it in all the New-England States.  We received specimens from Dr. BREWER,
obtained near Boston, and from W. O. AYRES, Esq., from Long Island.  We caught a
few of these animals near New-York, and obtained others from various parts of
the state.  We saw a specimen at York, Pennsylvania, and found another at
Frankfort, east of Philadelphia.  We captured one in the valleys of the Virginia
Mountains, near the Red Sulphur Springs, and received another from the valleys
in the mountains of North Carolina, near the borders of South Carolina, and
presume it may follow the valleys of the Alleghany ridge as far to the south as
those latitudes.  We have never found it in South Carolina or Georgia, but to
the west we have traced it in Ohio and the northern parts of Tennessee.

                                GENERAL REMARKS.

     We have been induced to undertake a careful examination of the teeth of
this species, which forms the type of the genus, in consequence of the wide
differences existing among authors in regard to the characters of the teeth.
DEMAREST gave six incisors above and four below in the under jaw, cheek-teeth
fourteen above and sixteen beneath.  In this arrangement he is followed by
HARLAN, GODMAN, GRIFFITH, DE KAY and others.  The description of the teeth, by
DESMAREST, is very accurate, and so is the very recent one of Dr. DE KAY.  F.
CUVIER, on whose judgment, in regard to characters founded on dentition, we
would sooner rely than on that of any other naturalist, has on the other hand,
(Des dents des Mammiferes, 1825, p. 56,) given descriptions and figures of these
teeth, there being two incisive, two canine, and sixteen molar above, and two
incisive, two canine, and fourteen molar below.  Our recent examination of a
series of skulls is in accordance with his views, and we have adopted his dental
arrangement.  The difference, however, between these authors is more in
appearance than in reality.  The incisors, canine, and false molars, in their
character so nearly approach each other, that it is exceedingly difficult to
assign to the several grades of teeth their true position in the dental system.
     LINNAEUS described this species under the name of Sorex cristatus, in 1776,
(12th edition, p. 73); PENNANT, in 1771, gave a description and poor figure of
what he called the Long-tailed Mole; and in 1777, ERXLEBEN bestowed on the
animal thus figured, the name of S. longicaudata.  PENNANT's specimen was
received from New-York, and although it was badly figured it was correctly
characterized "Long-tailed Mole, with a radiated nose," and in his "Arctic
Zoology" he describes it as "the nose long, the end radiated with short
tendrils."  The whole mistake we conceive was made by DESMAREST, whose work we
have found exceedingly inaccurate, misled, probably, by PENNANT's figure,
without looking at his description.  He gives one of the characters "point des
crates nasales," when PENNANT had stated quite the reverse.  Hence the error of
HARLAN, whose article on Condylura longicaudata is a translation of DESMAREST.
We feel confident that this supposed species must be struck from the list of
true species in our Fauna.
     The Condylura macroura of HARLAN, (Fauna Americana, p. 30,) was regarded as
a new species, in consequence of a specimen with the tail greatly enlarged.  It
was a second time published by RICHARDSON, who adopted HARLAN's name; GODMAN
first suggested the idea that this might be traced to a peculiarity in the
animal at a particular season.  It is known that a similar enlargement takes
place annually in the neck of the male deer during the rutting season.  We have
examined several specimens where the tail was only slightly enlarged, and the
swelling was just commencing, and we possess one where one half of the tail from
the root is of the usual large size of C. macroura, and the other half towards
the end is abruptly diminished so as to leave one half of the tail to designate
a new species and the other half forcing it back to its legitimate place in the
system of nature.
     The singular character (knobbed tail) on which this Genus was erroneously
founded should suggest to the naturalist the necessity of caution.  The tails of
quadrupeds in drying often assume a very different shape from that which they
originally possessed.  This is especially the case among the Shrews and mice,
that are described from dried specimens, as square-tailed, angular or knobbed,
whereas in nature their tails were round.