Scapanus townsendii


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Scapanus townsendii
Species Authority: (Bachman, 1839)
Common Name(s):
English Townsend's Mole

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): NatureServe (Hammerson, G. & Cannings, S.)
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Chanson, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Least Concern because it is relatively widespread, common, adaptable and there are no major threats.
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found in the extreme southwestern British Columbia, Canada, southward through the Olympic Mountains (Washington) and Coast Range and interior valleys of Oregon (eastward to the foothills of the Cascades) to Ferndale, California, in the United States where it is restricted to the coast. It occurs from near sea level up to at least 1,677 m asl in the Cascade Mountains and 1,615 m asl in the Olympic Mountains (Verts and Carraway 1998; Carraway et al. 1993).
Canada (British Columbia); United States (California, Oregon, Washington)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is considered to be common. Population densities may be as high as 12/ha (van Zyll de Jong 1983).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In general, this species inhabits more open habitats with heavier soils with higher water content than S. orarius (Verts and Carraway 1998). It is generally found in pastures, prairies, and shrub habitats in lowlands and flood plains, and occasionally in true fir (Abies) forests (Verts and Carraway 1998). This species is common even within human-modified lands such as lawns, golf courses, cemeteries and pastures. It is primarily fossorial, though juveniles often move on the surface in spring and summer. It digs shallow foraging tunnels as well as deeper permanent tunnels. It may vacate a flooded area and return to home area when waters recede. A spherical breeding nest cavity is excavated seven to 50 cm below ground level. It contains a grass breeding nest; three to 11 lateral tunnels may enter the cavity. Mating takes place in February. One litter averaging three young is born in late March or early April. Young are hairless at birth, grow rapidly, and disperse from maternal tunnels mainly in May and June (van Zyll de Jong 1983). They sexually mature in about 10 months.

This species is generally solitary and antagonistic toward other individuals. Young disperse up to several hundred metres from natal site (mean around 170-180 m) (see Carraway et al. 1993). Diet mainly consists of earthworms and insect larvae and pupae; also consumes centipedes, slugs, mature insects, spiders, and some vegetable matter. They are active throughout the year. Little is known about daily activity patterns (van Zyll de Jong 1983). Home range is up to at least 110 m in diameter.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species. Economically, this species damages some crops by eating or pushing up roots and by covering above ground portions of plants with mounds of soil; it may reduce forage for dairy cattle by 10-50%; soil mounds may interfere with operation of farm machinery or reduce quality of silage; some garden damage attributed to moles may be caused by other small mammals that use mole tunnels (see Carraway et al. 1993).

Formerly, skins had a commercial value through use in clothing accessories, but this is not considered to be a major threat to the species at present.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It occurs in some protected areas within its range. It is considered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) to be Endangered (01 May 2003), but this is mostly because it has such a small range in this country.

Citation: NatureServe (Hammerson, G. & Cannings, S.) 2008. Scapanus townsendii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 23 July 2014.
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