Animals inhabit almost all habitats, environments, and ecosystems on the planet.
From the frigid wastes of the north to the dry Savannah of the south, animals are everywhere, there are even penguins living on the Antarctic continent during the frozen winter months.
With so many animals living in so many places, you would expect some marvelous adaptations from each one to their chosen environment.
Well this is most certainly the case and in today’s article, we will look at the different creatures that make their life underground and how they have adapted over thousands of years to this environment.
These fascinating little guys can be found all around the world, but they are particularly common in North America, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America.
They spend a majority of their time digging tunnels through soil and rock, which allows them to eat and drink without having to leave the safety of their burrow!
They usually dig with their front paws only, using both fore paws for balance. Their bodies are covered in soft hair, although this may vary depending on location.
The fur is typically black or brown, but it can also come in other colors such as white, gray, red, yellowish-brown, or reddish-brown. Moles’ tails are long, thick, and bushy.
In terms of size, moles range anywhere between 6 inches and 2 feet tall, although the average size is about 1 foot. Most adult females weigh between 5 pounds and 15 pounds, while males tend to be smaller.
However, when it comes to weight, no two individuals are exactly alike. Some moles weigh more than others, and even within an individual, the amount can change significantly throughout its lifetime.
Mole diet includes roots, tubers, bulbs, seeds, fruits, nuts, fungi, insects, worms, snails, slugs, small vertebrates, eggs, and even bird droppings.
Moles do not need sunlight because they generate their own energy by eating vegetation and digesting food. This means that in the wintertime, they hibernate and don’t move much. When they emerge in springtime, they start looking for new homes to call home.
The name “groundhog” refers to the animal’s behavior of sleeping in the cold weather, then waking up in early spring to see if the days are getting longer or shorter. In New England, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, these furry rodents are called woodchucks.
In the southern part of the United States, they’re known as marmots. These adorable little guys are actually members of the squirrel family, and they resemble chipmunks except for a few key differences.
Unlike a true squirrel, groundhogs cannot climb trees. Instead, they run quickly along the ground, bounding like rabbits, hopping like kangaroos, and jumping like frogs. They have large hind legs, short front limbs, big ears, tiny noses, and a very strong bite.
They have sharp teeth, which help them hunt for food, defend themselves against predators, and tear apart tree bark.
Like moles, they use just their front paws to dig, although unlike moles, they use both sides of their body to push dirt away.
Like moles, groundhogs are omnivores. They eat leaves, grasses, flowers, fruit, seeds, insects, worms, slugs, snails, small vertebrates, birds’ nests, and even bird droplets.
This owl has been named after its ability to burrow into the earth, where it can hide from danger. It belongs to the barn owl family, and is quite a large bird but quite a small owl.
Burrowing Owls have a wingspan of 24 inches, but are quite stocky and heavy. They have beautiful plumage, being dark above and light below.
They have a unique characteristic: a huge hooked bill that helps them catch prey. Not only that, but they also have powerful talons that allow them to rip open the stomachs of mice, rats, and voles.
Birds of prey such as hawks and eagles are some of the most dangerous animals in nature. But Burrowing Owls are able to keep them at bay with their tenacity and digging ability, making them one of the most tenacious owls on Earth.
Hedgehogs are mammals native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. Hedgehogs are omnivores that feed primarily on plant material and insects, especially mollusks like slugs or snails.
The hedgehog is an active species during the night but has been known to spend significant amounts of the day being active. Hedgehogs are solitary creatures, spending most of their time alone, unless mating season arrives.
Hedgehogs have a spiky back covered with hairs and spins, and a long tail that acts as a rudder. Their bodies are thick, and they have four toes on each paw.
The front two claws are used to dig tunnels through soil, while the rear two claws are used for pushing and pulling objects. A hedgehog’s eyesight is poor, so they rely on smell and touch to find food.
A hedgehog may spend six months to a year underground. During this time, it will build a nest out of mud and twigs, and make a shallow tunnel underneath it to sleep.
These tortoises are found throughout North America, Mexico, and parts of Central America. They are known as gophers to people of the area because of their burrowing behavior, which affects the entire ecosystem they live in.
However, they are not related to mammals at all, instead they are considered reptiles, and belong to the turtle family. These animals are herbivores, eating mainly plants.
The gopher tortoise is an animal that spends much of its life in the ground. When these creatures emerge from their holes, they are either looking for food or looking for a mate. After finding a suitable partner, they will lay eggs together. Each clutch contains up to 100 eggs.
As the eggs hatch, the baby gophers begin to get ready to leave the safety of their home. At first, they stay close to the surface by clinging to nearby vegetation. As they grow bigger, they move further down into the hole and become more independent.
The gopher tortoise is an incredibly important animal in its own ecosystem and is considered a keystone species. The areas they live in are prone to wildfires that burn away the entire landscape.
The only way that most animals survive is by using the tortoises extensive burrows, which luckily the tortoises themselves do not mind.
There are lots of animals that live underground and have found a niche to exploit in these ecosystems. A lot of these creatures have not only adapted to this strange subterranean environment, but have thrived there as well.
So, when you see a prairie dog or another ground dwelling animal, just know you are only seeing a snippet of their vast underground world.