The golden mole, the real-life version of a tribble, is not actually a mole. Nor is it always golden. It is, however, the star of a new teaser for the upcoming nature documentary, Planet Earth II.
It’s not actually a mole
This bug-eating mammal, no larger than a ping-pong ball, burrows through the dry, soft soils of Sub-Saharan Africa. David Attenborough narrates while the tiny mammal tunnels through sand dunes and snuffles after termites. (“Termites: not easy to catch when you’re blind,” Attenborough observes.) Its eyes are covered by skin, so to find its prey, the golden mole plunges its head into the sand to pick up the vibrations that insects make as they scuttle across the ground.
It’s hard to say exactly what species of golden mole this is — there are 21 different ones that all live in Sub-Saharan Africa. They may look soft and cuddly, but golden moles are hardened survivors. Their furry coats cover thick, tough skin that can withstand squeezing and scraping through tunnels. To survive extreme weather fluctuations in the desert, they can go into a kind of hibernation when it gets cold. Their bodies are so efficient that some species don’t even need to drink water.
They don’t need company, either — these ornery little loners are self-sufficient. In fact, when they have to live with or around their relatives, golden moles wind up slashing each other with their claws. Truly appropriate for the holidays, wouldn’t you say?