Imagine yourself inside a dark tunnel. You can barely see and have to dig to get out. But you have no light or tools. How do you do it?
Use your fingers to feel around and dig with bare hands. Kudos! You’re doing a mole’s job. Only, a mole uses its nose to dig – and probably does a better job!
Moles are rat-like creatures that mostly live in underground tunnels. Most moles are completely blind. To “see” around, moles have thin finger-like extensions on their tubular (tube-like), bare noses. They use these sensitive “fingers” to feel and guide them in the darkness of their homes.
But how do the noses dig?
The fingers on their snouts help loosen the earth in front of them. Once the dirt is sufficiently loosened, the mole moves it sideways with its claws. With this simple method a mole digs upto 10 lbs of earth in just 20 minutes. That’s the size of a small pup!
There is another creature that digs likewise. If you go to Zambia in Africa, you’ll see the barren brown landscape dotted with bright red and blue coloured birds. These are the ‘Carmine bee-eater’ birds.
The bee-eaters use their heads to dig into the sandstone cliffs. Swarms of these birds fly against a vertical cliff made of sun-baked mud. Almost like banging their heads against a wall. They use their sharp long beaks to hit the same spot again and again. This creates a ledge, big enough for them to perch. Once they perch on the cliff-side, they start burrowing. Using their front toes, they shovel out nests that can be as long as eight feet inside. That is probably double your height!
The world has many such remarkable animals, but not all dig with their noses. There’s the ‘deadly’ termite that can build mounds taller than a giraffe using its saliva. The scabies mite that crawls under the human skin (yew)! Also, the earthworm that squirms its body through mud.
But, you need not go far to find some of these diggers. You probably have one right beside you now. It digs to hide bones, to crawl under the fence, or just for fun.
Yes, it’s your dog; just another of nature’s amazing diggers!