general info about Theriologia Ukrainica

Theriologia Ukrainica

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

2023 • Vol. 25 • Contents of volume >>>

download pdfKorobchenko, M. 2023. Conservation of rodents ex situ: experience of keeping the northern mole vole (Ellobius talpinus) in captivity. Theriologia Ukrainica, 25: 187–202. [In English, with Ukrainian summary]



Conservation of rodents ex situ: experience of keeping the northern mole vole (Ellobius talpinus) in captivity


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


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


Theriologia Ukrainica. 2023. Vol. 25: 187–202.




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


The article presents data on the biology of Ellobius talpinus kept in captivity. The creation of semi-underground conditions in a terrarium and long-term observations of a group of mole voles during 2003–2014 are described. The course of the life cycle of these animals in the terrarium is presented: daily and seasonal activity, burrowing activity, diet and food preferences, and reproduction. It has been revealed that captive mole voles change their daily activity on the surface from crepuscular to diel or even diurnal, which is related to the absence of disturbance factors or sudden changes in temperature and light. Seasonal activity in captivity is not pronounced, and is represented by two cases of reproduction that occurred in the summer months. The burrowing activity is extremely high; mole voles burrow or clean their passages daily and often with every activity, without any particular need, demonstrating a stereotypical form of behaviour. Social behaviour, specifics of communication between individuals, and vocalisation are described. It has been noted that mole voles are characterised by high communication activity, both tactile between adults and when exploring the environment. Cases of special high-frequency vocalisation such as ‘grinding’ directed not towards another individual, but to the corners of the terrarium, where the mole voles were searching for the possibility of making passages, were repeatedly observed and recorded on video. The following aspects of behaviour were also analysed: reaction to the observer, new conditions, and disturbances, as well as features of group behaviour, including aggression, joint rest, and feeding. Mole voles consumed food both where it was placed and in their chambers, but most often they attempted to make stocks in the chambers. They preferred roots and bulbs of cultivated plants. The experience of forming breeding pairs was gained, which allowed us to study the course of pregnancy and the development and growth of the neonates and young. The appearance and condition of neonates are described along with the presence of teeth, the time when the eyes open, the process of feeding and weaning, growth and weight gain, the ability to move and burrow, and features of parental care. The experience gained demonstrates both the possibility of introduction of the species and the formation of reserve groups to restore lost natural populations.


northern mole vole, Ellobius talpinus, conservation ex situ, captivity



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