They live in dark tunnels, they have beady eyes, large buck teeth, nearly hairless wrinkled pink skin… this is the naked mole rat! These amazing critters live in burrows in harsh living conditions. It’s hot, low in oxygen, high in carbon dioxide, and crowded; but they like it that way. The really amazing thing about these critters is that they are resistant to disease. Read more!
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Heterocephalus glaber
Length: 5.1 inches
Lifespan: Over 30 years +
Now on to the Facts!
2.) The naked mole rat’s skin is not capable of feeling pain, due to how its pain receptors work!
3.) Even though they are called naked mole rats, they are – in fact – not moles at all; they are also not rats! They are more closely related to guinea pigs and porcupines.
4.) The mole rat’s large front teeth are actually not only used for digging, but can move independently of one another.
5.) These interesting critters are eusocial (they live in a hierarchical society). Like bees, termites, and other specific insects, there is a queen, soldiers, and also workers.
But wait, there’s more on the naked mole rat!
6.) Only the queen, or doe, reproduces in the colony. She reproduces with 3 – 4 males, or bucks, in the horde. The workers are sterile and only serve as burrowers and to help defend the burrows with the soldiers.
7.) There can be up to 300 in a colony and have extensive burrows that can be as large as a couple football fields!
Did you know…?
Naked mole rats are resistant to cancer! They produce a high-molecular-mass form of hyaluronan, which is referred to as HMW-HA. This helps to prevent cancer.
8.) They actually aren’t naked, as they do have a scattering of whisker-like hairs about their body that help them feel their way in the dark tunnels.
9.) These rodents are herbivores (eat only plant matter). They mostly feed on large tubers. A good sized tuber can keep a colony going for months or even years! They eat the interior of the tuber, leaving enough of the plant to regrow.
10.) Naked mole rats sometimes eat their own feces, though this is thought to be a social behavior rather than a source of nutrition.