Friday, February 3, 2012

Groundhogs and Mole Rats

Yesterday was Groundhog Day. So my friend Elizabeth (a second Elizabeth, not the one I referred to yesterday) posted this picture on FB. So I commented that there are no groundhogs in Egypt. And that there's no weather suspense here, because every day is sun, sun, sun. Although we've had a couple of bright but overcast days lately, and one very windy day.

I checked my facts before commenting. Referring to my trusty book: A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt, by Richard Hoath, The American University in Cairo Press, 2009, ISBN 9789774162541. [Visit They have some fantastic books!]

There are no groundhogs in the rodent section of this book. But there is a rodent called the mole rat. The Lesser Mole Rat, spalax leucodon, to be precise. This animal is a relative of gerbils and gerboas. Like moles, the mole rat is a blind burrower which throws up mounds of earth. Like rats, it is a rodent.

Here is a picture of the little cutie, courtesy of Wikipedia. [But Wikipedia lists its habitat as eastern Europe. No mention of Egypt. They should read Hoath's book!]

Because, per Hoath, there are no moles in Egypt, I've already eliminated from my book draft a reference to moles.

Now I might add the reference back in. An Ethiopian scathingly compares Egyptian "mountains" to molehills. Which doesn't work. But he could compare them to mole-rat mounds.

Or that might just sound weird!

Egypt does have real mountains, though. In Sinai, which was part of Egypt in ancient times as well.

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