Have you seen this species before? I'm guessing you've at least noticed evidence of its subterranean runways on the surface of the ground.
There are four species of moles that live in California, two of which have been recorded on Bodega Head. I showed one species, the American Shrew-Mole, on 9 February 2013 (review that post here). The mole pictured above is a Broad-footed Mole (Scapanus latimanus).
I used the name "Broad-footed Mole" because that's the name commonly used by other sources. But I was tempted to rebel and use "Broad-handed Mole" because the species name, "latimanus" translates directly into "broad hand." And a broad hand it is!
The entire mole was ~14 cm long. The front "hand" was ~2 cm long and ~1.5 cm wide. Note that the claws are quite long and take up ~50% of the hand!
On the opposite end, the hind feet are much, much smaller — not so important for digging.
I'll point out one more important characteristic for now — the tail. If you review the first photo (I'll show it again below), note the length of the tail (is it short or long?) and whether it's covered with hairs or not.
The short, hairy tail helps identify this as a Broad-footed Mole.
P.S. I know this might seem a little random, but whenever I see a mole I almost always think of two things from my past that triggered visualizations of what life might be like for a mole:
- A drawing by one of my favorite illustrators — "Dead End Mole" by Peter Parnall. You can see it here. (Click on the thumbnail to see the complete version.)
- A wonderful book that Julie recommended to me — Duncton Wood by William Horwood. It's written in the style of Watership Down, but with moles instead of rabbits.