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Family Spalacidae, commonly known as the mole-rats or bamboo rats, is a family of rodents found in Eurasia and Africa.

They are burrowing animals with cylindrical bodies, short limbs and powerful claws that help them to dig through soil quickly and efficiently.

Mole-rats inhabit underground tunnels which they construct themselves using their sharp incisors.

The species within this family vary greatly in terms of size, coloration and habitat preferences.

Most mole-rats feed on plant material such as roots and tubers, but some have evolved specialized diets including fungi or insects.

This article will provide an overview of Family Spalacidae by discussing its taxonomy, distribution range, physical characteristics, diet and behavior.

Mole rat or Large bamboo rat in the garden


  • Genus Cannomys – lesser bamboo rat
  • Genus Eospalax – zokor
  • Genus Myospalax
  • Genus Rhizomys – bamboo rat
  • Genus Spalax – spalax
  • Genus Tachyoryctes


The spalacidae family is a diverse group of small rodents, found in an array of habitats from grasslands to deserts. As masterful diggers and burrowers, these animals are adept at finding their way through the soil, with some species living up to 10 years or more.

Their breeding habits also vary widely among different members of this family – some reproduce rapidly while others take months before producing offspring. Conservation efforts have been ongoing for many years to protect these creatures and ensure that their populations remain healthy.

In addition to being expert tunnelers, spalacidae are well known for their complex social structures and behaviors which include scent marking and vocal communication. Studies have shown that they form hierarchies within their colonies, establishing dominance between individuals as well as determining who will breed when given the opportunity.

These traits combined with their ability to adapt quickly to changing environments make them one of the most remarkable families in the rodent world. It is clear why conservationists continue to focus on preserving both habitat and population levels so future generations can appreciate these unique mammals.

Distribution Range

The family Spalacidae has a wide distribution range, with more than 120 species found in the Palearctic and Oriental regions. Most of these species are ground-dwelling animals living in temperate climates, but some have also been reported to inhabit tropical forests.

Species belonging to this family can be found in Eurasia, North Africa and western Asia up to China and Japan. Burrowing habits vary among different spalacids: some dig their own burrows while others use abandoned mammal tunnels or other natural cavities.

Spalacids display varied breeding behaviours depending on the environmental conditions in which they live. In cold environments with short days during winter months, reproduction is delayed until springtime when temperatures rise again; however, in warmer areas it may occur all year round.

Furthermore, habitat requirements for spalacids tend to include loose soil that allows them to easily construct their underground homes where food sources such as insects can be found close by. To avoid predation risk, many individuals remain underground except when actively searching for food aboveground at night time.

Physical Characteristics

The spalacidae family are a unique group of burrowing rodents. Their distinct physical characteristics and social hierarchy play an integral role in their mating patterns.

An interesting statistic to note is that among the 500 species within the spalacidae family, they have adapted to living on every continent except Antarctica. This diverse range of habitats allows for specific variations between individual species and has contributed to the development of various strategies for surviving in different climates.

Within this large family, there exists both solitary individuals as well as those who form larger colonies with complex social hierarchies. These hierarchies are important determinants when it comes to mating behavior since they create opportunities for territoriality or facilitate cooperative breeding systems depending on where an individual falls within the dominance structure.

For example, dominant males are more likely to mate while subordinate females may serve as helpers during reproduction cycles even if not actively participating themselves. Overall, these hierarchical structures provide insight into how reproductive behaviors differ from one species to another and why some members of the same family may act quite differently than others based on rank or position within the colony’s social order.


Members of the Spalacidae family have a varied diet and employ various foraging techniques in order to obtain food. The most common method used by these species is digging, which is often done alone or in pairs. This behavior can vary depending on social dynamics within the group; some individuals may dig together while others stand guard nearby.

In addition to digging, members of this family also feed on seeds, insects, worms, tubers and other small animals. They are opportunistic eaters who will take advantage of any available resources and even engage in scavenging when necessary. A variety of strategies are employed to find food including: searching through leaf litter, using their sense of smell to locate prey, exploring crevices and cracks in rocks/trees, and actively pursuing prey with speed and agility.

Due to their omnivorous nature, Spalacidae members must be able to respond quickly to environmental changes that affect availability of food sources. By utilizing different foraging techniques they are better able to survive unpredictable periods where certain types of food become scarce.

It has been observed that these species exhibit adaptive changing behavior such as switching between solitary or cooperative hunting tactics based upon an individual’s needs or those of its group. Furthermore, when faced with competition from another group for resources there is evidence that suggests increased cooperation among members so as to increase success rate during foraging expeditions.

Little bamboo rat walking.


Spalacidae, a family of small mammals, have been observed to display behaviors that are both complex and diverse. Despite this variety in behavior, it is possible to make generalizations about the species’ social organization and mating rituals.

The following table provides an overview of these characteristics:

Social OrganizationMating Rituals
Monogamous pairsTerritoriality
Solitary existenceGestation

Social organizations among spalacidae vary from solitary living animals to monogamy as well as herding groups. In either case, territoriality plays an important role in mating rituals. This may be seen through aggressive posturing or scent marking when rival males cross paths within the shared boundaries of two individuals or a group. During gestation periods, females will often remain hidden for protection until their young are born when they become more active again. Both parents provide care for the offspring during early stages of development with varying levels of involvement depending on the species.

Overall, there is quite a bit of variation between different spalacidae species regarding social organization and mating rituals. Understanding how individual species interact can help us better appreciate their unique contribution to our ecosystems and gain knowledge useful in conservation efforts moving forward.


The family Spalacidae is a diverse group of animals that includes several species adapted for different environments. The adaptations in this family are varied and include social hierarchy, mating rituals, behavior, and physical characteristics.

Spalacids exhibit an intricate social system with distinct hierarchies based on size and strength. They develop complex mating rituals which vary widely among the various members of the family. Some spalacids form monogamous pair bonds while others engage in more promiscuous courtship behaviors. Additionally, some species display cooperative breeding where related individuals may assist in raising offspring together.

Physical adaptation also plays an important role within the Spalacidae family. Many species have evolved specific body shapes to suit their environment, such as long claws or furred tails used to burrow underground. Others employ powerful legs and feet to dig through soil quickly and efficiently. Other features like specialized teeth can be seen in certain species which enhance their ability to process food into energy or protect against predation.


The family Spalacidae is a diverse and interesting group of animals.

With species ranging from small, subterranean rodents to large arboreal mammals, there are many things that make spalacids unique.

They can be found in all parts of the world and have adapted to their environments with specialized diets, behavior, and physical characteristics.

One particularly fascinating trait is their ability to survive on low oxygen levels; some species can even withstand anoxia for up to 15 minutes! This adaptation has allowed them to thrive in areas where other animals would struggle.

Spalacids are extremely important components of their ecosystems as they play key roles in regulating food webs and transferring energy through predation.

Their diversity makes them essential links in virtually every ecosystem they inhabit.

As researchers continue to study these remarkable creatures, we will gain greater insight into how they contribute not only locally but also globally to maintaining biodiversity around the world.