Myospalax aspalax, false zokor (1)

photo: dauriareserve.narod.ru

Myospalax aspalax, false zokor (4)

photo: Igor Mavrin

photo: ap_levashkin via http://ap-levashkin.livejournal.com

Habitat: China; Mongolia; Russian Federation
Status: Least Concern

It’s a rare day when I come across an animal I’ve yet to hear about before. Today happens to be one of those days. When I first saw a photo of this small creature, I figured it was just some species of mole I had never seen. Well, after a little digging I discovered it’s actually something called a False Zokor (Myospalax aspalax) which is a relative of the little diggers we all know and love (well, except for those with gardens… they might not enjoy moles quite as much as I do).¬†[Edit: apparently they’re not relatives, just look like moles!] Yay for convergent evolution!

The False Zokor leads a very secretive life, spending all of its time underground where it zipps through its intricate maze-like burrows. For this reason, very little is known about its behavior. It’s about 19-26 cm in length with a gray/dirty cream velvety coat. Its not blind but relies more on its well-developed senses of smell and hearing to navigate its dark habitat. The zokor is built to dig with large claws (up to 3 cm in length) that it uses much like shovels to clear a path in the dirt.

Myospalax aspalax, false zokor (2)

photo: dauriareserve.narod.ru

Personally, I think they’re pretty adorable. The one above reminds me of a baby seal pup with its fluffy white coat. The only turn off are those¬† huge claws, and the fact that it has a reputation for being rather “hostile” as one Russian website put it. Apparently they can get rather bitey if messed with (though, wouldn’t you?).

Anyways, I’m just happy to hear about an animal I’d never come across in my extensive googling before! Hooray for the False Zokor!