I was walking down the driveway yesterday and came across this chap next to the road. It’s a Cape dune mole rat, the largest of all the blemols (burrowing rodents restricted to sub-Saharan Africa). Measuring 27 to 35 centimeters (11 to 14 in) in head-body length it has very poor vision, although they are thought to use the surfaces of their eyes for sensing air currents and have very good sense of smell and touch.
They rarely come to the surface, spending their entire life underground. They are herbivorous, primarily eating roots, tubers, and bulbs. I have seen nursery plants disappearing, black bags and all, into their tunnels and small fynbos plants being pulled underground by their roots. They are thereby able to eat leaves, stems, and other parts of the plant without having to come above ground. They burrow in search of food, and the great majority of their tunnel complex consists of these foraging burrows, surrounding a smaller number of storage areas, nests, and latrine chambers. They push up huge mounds of soil (much to the irritation of some gardeners) and are important disperses of plant material in the fynbos.
The Cape dune mole rat has a thick pelt of soft fur that covers its entire body. It is cinnamon-brown with greyish underparts. Their forefeet are heavily adapted for digging, with powerful curved claws. They also have lip-like flaps of skin that are able to close behind their impressive incisors, preventing soil from falling into their mouths.
Even my dog Brutus was put off by the size of this guys incisors!