Marsupial Mole
The southern marsupial mole. Rosa Catherine Fiveash, H. Barrett, Wikimedia Commons

Kate Crossing, who co-ordinates an Indigenous Protected Area in the Gibson Desert, was stunned to find a rare Australian marsupial mole that is spotted only 10 times a century. Australia’s silky-haired golden marsupial mole is known locally by the name Kakarratul and is found in the deserts of northern and central Australia. These moles rarely surfaces from underground.

This time, Aboriginal women from Western Australia's north encountered this rare creature while Crossing was taking a field trip with the local rangers near the Northern Territory border. They saw the golden creature run along the track in front of Crossing’s car. One of the rangers quickly jumped from the car and caught hold of the tiny creature.

The marsupial mole was less than the size of the ranger’s palm, had golden-coloured fur and pink nose. As Australia’s marsupial mole rarely makes a surface appearance and mostly lives underground, Crossing and company were amazed to see it above ground. They considered themselves lucky.

Crossing photographed the animal and took videos before releasing it. The photographs were excitedly seen by the women from the remote community of Kiwirrkurra. Everybody was extremely excited to touch the fast-burrowing animal. A video of the tiny creature was posted on Tjamu Tjamu Aboriginal Corporation – Kiwirrkurra’s Facebook page. The video has already received more than 140,000 views, almost 3,000 likes and numerous comments. One can watch the YouTube video here.

“Wow, how lucky are we! Last week the Kiwirrkurra Rangers saw this elusive creature while on a bush foods trip. The karrkaratul (marsupial mole) is rarely seen as it lives most of its life below ground,” read the caption of the Facebook post.

“Some of the people who've spent more time in the desert before [white] contact had seen a mole before, but not for many years, and there were younger people who'd never seen one properly. It had beautifully soft fur, and it looked really delicate … but it also had really strong front legs and feet. When we put it down, off the road, it went straight down and it was gone in less than 30 seconds,” Crossing told the ABC.

The Australian marsupial mole is so thoroughly adapted to living underground that it has no functioning ears and eyes. It listens from inside and has a functioning sense of smell. Very little is known about this reclusive creature.