The southern marsupial mole (Notoryctes typhlops) is not a mole, it is a small, unusual, pale golden marsupial with no visible eyes or ears, a horny shield protecting its nose and stubby leathery tail.
The claws on its front feet are enlarged and make effective spades. When digging, it moves them up and down in a chopping action, pushing the sand back with its hind feet. This amazing little creature then inches along like a caterpillar, using a pad in front of its tail to lever itself forward. Their tubular body, cone shaped head and short strong limbs enable them to swim through the sand about 20cm beneath the surface.
The southern marsupial mole lives in the desert rivers and sand country.
The southern marsupial mole constructs deep burrows up to 2m deep.
Southern marsupial moles are believed to be sparsely distributed across the Australian deserts in dune fields and river flats.
It is classified as endangered as very few animals have been recorded in the last 50 years compared with earlier last century. We know very little about its way of life as they have never survived in captivity for very long.
Juicy beetle larvae are the southern marsupial mole's favourite food, along with leaf scale insects, mulga seeds, ant eggs and the occasional gecko.
Southern marsupial moles come to the surface after heavy rain when they are vulnerable to dingoes and feral cats and red foxes.
It is quite a small creature: only 12 to 15cm long. One would easily fit into the palm of your hand. It weighs between 40 to 70g.
Unknown except that females have a backward opening pouch in which they can suckle one or two young.
Extra fun facts
The mysterious southern marsupial mole is one of the many Tjukurpa animals associated with the creation of Uluru. Western desert people call it Itjaritjari.
"Iltjaritjari has always lived at Uluru in close harmony with the mala, she is a playful old woman and has busily tunnelled in the boulders above the caves - you can see the holes in these boulders where she can poke her head out. From her home she can see the mala women and children busily gathering food (bush figs and plums) along the tracks in preparation for their ceremonies." Anangu.
It's scientific name, Notoryctes typhlops, means blind southern digger.
After rain the marsupial mole may be spotted travelling on top of the sand. When it does, it leaves a very distinctive track: three parallel grooves in the sand, the deep centre one being made by the stubby tail.