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blesmol

any of about a dozen species of burrowing African rodents that live in arid regions south of the Sahara (desert). Blesmols are highly adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They appear virtually neckless, having strong, blunt heads with incisor teeth protruding forward beyond the mouth. The teeth are used for digging, and the mouth can be closed behind the front teeth, which prevents ingestion of soil as the animals dig. Their stocky, cylindrical bodies have short limbs and large feet. The outer borders of the hind feet are fringed with stiff hairs that aid in pushing soil rearward. The forefeet bear small claws, except for the long, strong front claws of the dune blesmols (genus Bathyergus). The eyes are very small, and there are no external ears, only openings that are either hidden by fur or surrounded by bare or thickened skin. Blesmols have an acute sense of hearing, however, and they are very sensitive to ground vibrations.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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