What is it about?

The activity of the greater mole-rat was studied using a new technique. New data have been obtained on the characteristics of the daily and seasonal underground life of mole-rats in an isolated population in Mordovia. Polyphase daily activity is most pronounced in the spring and early fall periods. In spring, the maximum activity (about 20% of all daily registrations in separate hours) is confined to the periods from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. and from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. The peak of activity in the early fall was recorded from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. At night, the activity of animals in different seasons was stably low. The burrowing activity, as a rule, began after midnight and stopped in the morning before 5:00 a.m. The maximum duration of the dormancy period in the evening in summer months was five hours. Statistically significant differences were obtained for the average number of passages of mole-rats in the burrow per day for different months using the Mann‒Whitney criterion (p < 0.05).

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Why is it important?

Thus, the daily rhythm of the greater mole-rat has a polyphase character with frequent changes in activity and rest. The mole-rat is active both in the daytime and at night. But if in the daytime the activity undergoes fluctuations depending on the season, at nighttime a stably low activity of animals is recorded. The highest activity is observed in April–May and August–September. The least activity was recorded in the late fall months at the approach of December. Under the conditions of Mordovia, winter burrowing activity of mole-rats was not observed, which is associated with more severe climatic conditions in comparison with the southern regions of Russia. The maximum duration of the period during which there are no movements of mole-rats through the foraging passages per day is 5 hours (evening period of the summer months). This circumstance can be used when counting mole-rats in large areas, as with the help of voice recorders it will be possible to identify which of the passages are populated and which are not.


It is of clear interest to learn whether there are differences in the studied aspect of the greater mole-rat in one of the local populations on the northern border of the range compared to populations that are in optimum conditions and that do not experience the effect of isolation from neighboring populations, which is noted in Mordovia.

Alexey Andreychev

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This page is a summary of: Daily and Seasonal Feeding Activity of the Greater Mole-Rat (Spalax microphtalmus, Rodentia, Spalacidae), Biology Bulletin, December 2019, Pleiades Publishing Ltd,
DOI: 10.1134/s1062359019090012.
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