Condylura cristata lives in the moist soil of coniferous and deciduous forests in the nearactic. This biogeographical region is located in the northern portion of the western hemisphere. The geography of Condylura cristata. Photo credit:  IUCN Red List via Wiki commons 2010.It includes Greenland and all of North America down to central Mexico. Specifically, Condylura cristata is found in northern and eastern North America (Kurta 1995). These animals can be found as far north as Québec, Canada, as far south as Georgia, USA and throughout the Appalachian Mountains in between. Condylura cristata is also found along the USA – Canadian border from the Atlantic Coast into North Dakota, USA (Kurta 1995).

Condylura cristata
prefers to live in riparian habitats and is the only semi-aquatic mole in the western hemisphere (Campbell et al. 1999).  A riparian environment is an area of land that lies alongside a body of water and has little drainage capabilities; this could be a river, lake, swamp, or any other presence of water (Natural Resources Conservation Service 2014). The characteristics of this area are greatly impacted by the surrounding water. These impacted areas include the vegetation, the soil and the water itself. The soil, for the most part, is extremely damp and is full of nutrients that the body of water has brought downstream (Natural Resources Conservation Service 2014). Although this is the normal homeland of Condylura cristata, they have also been sighted in a variety of areas. They can survive happily in either warm or cold environments and at many different elevations, the lowest being the Atlantic coastline and the highest being into the Great Smoky Mountains. These moles have also been seen sparingly in dry areas miles from a body of water, but this is not typical Star Nosed Mole Breathing (Kurta 1995).

This riparian habitat provides an optimal environment for the organisms that Condylura cristata feed on. The wet and nutritious soil is a great habitat for the worms and beetle larvae that Condylura cristata feeds on. Even though catching this prey might seem like the easiest way to acquire food, only 12-25 percent of their nutrients are taken this way (Saunders 1988). The other 75-88 percent are taken underwater, another reason that a riparian area is needed. This large portion of food consists of mostly aquatic invertebrates. Condylura cristata are also known to feed on small amphibians and fish (Saunders 1988). Condylura cristata can even smell underwater by creating bubbles from its nose, trapping particles and quickly bringing those bubbles and particles back in! Find out more about the organisms that Condylura cristata eats on the Interactions page!

Condylura cristata has a home range of approximately 4000 square meters and, like most talpids, it constructs and shares a network of underground tunnels (Kurta 1995). The depth of these tunnels can range between right at the surface to 60 cm deep (Saunders 1988). Star Nosed Mole in Den Throughout the tunnels, open, dry sections are made dug out to be used as a nest for resting and for raising the young. Unlike many talpids, this mole will create entrances to its den both above and below the waterline; this allows it to quickly leave its burrow and forage for aquatic invertebrates, in addition to any prey it finds while digging (Saunders 1988). The underwater holes are often built fairly deep in the water, which allows the mole to have continued access to the water during the freeze of the winter (Saunders 1988).  The mole tunnels and dens also provide shelter from the predators of Condylura cristata (Kurta 1995). Check out these predators on the Interactions page!

<< Classification                                Home                      Form and Function>>