general info about Theriologia Ukrainica

Theriologia Ukrainica

ISSN 2616-7379 (print) • ISSN 2617-1120 (online)

2022 • Vol. 23 • Contents of volume >>>

download pdfKorobchenko, M. 2022. Dynamics of spatial distribution, burrowing activity, and foraging of the greater blind mole rat (Spalax microphthalmus). Theriologia Ukrainica, 23: 110–129.



Dynamics of spatial distribution, burrowing activity, and foraging of the greater blind mole rat (Spalax microphthalmus)


Marina Korobchenko (orcid: 0000-0002-1063-482X)


National Museum of Natural History, NAS of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine)


Theriologia Ukrainica. 2022. Vol. 23: 110–129.




Ukrainian, with English summary, titles of tables, captures to figs


Original data on the burrowing and foraging activities of the greater blind mole rat (Spalax microphthalmus), which is distributed in the east of Ukraine, are generalised. The population density of this species depends directly on the amount of available food resources at respective sites. The strategy of food storage forms according to the amount and type of available plant resources and depending on the preservation of natural habitat of mole rats. Their appearance in gardens and homesteads is related to anthropogenic changes of the environment at the dwelling sites of mole rats. The seasonal dynamics of their burrowing activity is well pronounced and includes the creation of a branching system of tunnels in the period of active vegetation of plants as well as the relocation or resettlement of animals in various habitats during the year, their lifetime, and population cycle. The length of tunnels, structure of burrows, and the structure of branched underground galleries are regulated by the density and spatial distribution of food resources. Based on the results of our study, specific features of the activity of the greater blind mole rat during various seasons of the year are described, including their active relocation both underground and on the surface, their burrowing at different horizons, the use of a great variety of food and the volumes of their storage for periods when the vegetation of plants ceases. Features of biotopic distribution and food storage of the greater blind mole rat are described in general and in relation to the species’ dispersal into anthropogenically transformed parts of its range, including areas nearby to human settlements. The distribution of food storage chambers is analysed, of both temporal chambers near the surface and deep-lying chambers, the ratio of which is about 3:1. The food storage chambers often contain garden vegetables, although it is related not only to the preferences of mole rats, which are obvious too, but also to the fact that information about the storage chambers (especially deep-lying ones) is usually reported by people combating the mole rats for the stolen harvest. The average volume of low-lying chambers is 5–10 kg (1.0–1.5 buckets), whereas the average volume of deep-lying chambers is 20–30 kg. Data on the content of food storage chambers revealed both in homesteads and natural or nearly natural sites are generalised.


mole rat, spatial distribution, foraging behaviour, food storage, Ukraine



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