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Cute Rat? Not really, the Strange Naked Mole-Rat is a Rodent
Animal Facts, Mammals, Wildlife

Cute Rat? Not really, the Strange Naked Mole-Rat is a Rodent

Naked Mole Rat is a strange mammal

The Cute Naked Mole-Rat is the Strangest Mammal, but Why?

Yes! I do think they are cute. Most people call them ugly, weird, or strange. While it is a fact that they are strange, they are not ugly! The naked mole-rat is one of the strangest mammals for various reasons. I personally find them fascinating to watch. But don’t take my word for it, take a look at our YouTube video above or down below this post I included a video clip we took in the National Zoo in Washington. And learn facts about the strange Naked Mole-Rat.

The first time I saw them I couldn’t stop staring. They are so playful and agile I was so curious to learn more about what in the world these small hyper creatures were. I had so many questions. Like why haven’t I ever seen one before? Maybe because they live underground. That is right they are burrowing rodents. And what is it a mole or a rat? Neither, despite their name they are neither moles nor rats, they are burrowing rodents. And I can only guess that they are named ‘Naked” because they appear to have no hair. But, they do have hairs as I mention in the facts below.

The Naked Mole is truly one of the strangest mammals, but why? Well, for many reasons. For one, they are one of only two mammals who are eusocial. The other being the DamaralandĀ mole-rat. They live in organized societies more typical of insects like ants and bees. Also, they are resistant to cancer, they feel no pain, they are cold-blooded, and can live in an environment with very little oxygen. But wait, there’s more. See more interesting fun facts below.

18 Naked Mole-Rat Facts

  1. The Naked Mole-Rats are so strange they are their own specie their own genus and even their own family. They are more closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs than to moles or rats.

Family: Heterocephalidae

Genus: Heterocephalus

Species: Heterocephalus glaber

  1. The naked mole-rat is a pinkish tubular, wrinkled, almost hairless, small burrowing rodent. They live almost their entire lives in darkness underground.
  2. They weigh about 1.0 to 1.8 ounces and measure from 3 to 4 inches long. When they are born they weigh less than a penny (.07 ounces).
  3. They have a skinny rat-like tail. About 3 inches long.
  4. They have small eyes and are almost blind, so they rely on their sense of hearing, smell, and touch.
  5. They have about 100 fine hairs throughout their bodies that act like whiskers to help them feel their way around.
  6. They are native to the deserts of East Africa.  Mainly Somalia, Kenya, and South Ethiopia.
  7. They are cold-blooded, meaning they can not regulate their body temperature, much like reptiles. If it gets cold at night they huddle and pile up on top of each other to share body heat to stay warm.
  8. They are one of two mammals who are Eusocial, meaning they live in highly organized societies. They live in colonies that more closely resemble insect hives similar to bees and ants. The colonies have several generations living together. The colonies can have from 20 to 300 individuals living in an underground tunnel system that can be up to 2 miles long.

The colony is led by the queen and all other members have specific working roles within the organization of the family group.  Some are workers and some are soldiers. The workers scout for food, dig tunnels and care for the pups. The soldiers are on guard protecting the colony. Only the queen has pups. She has 12 to 27 at a time about 3 times a year. The queen is not born a queen; she is a female who fought her way to the top. But her position is not secure, she must continue to fight potential opponents who want to take over her role. For that reason, she often monitors the tunnels and chambers and bites and pushes the members to remind them of who is boss.

  1. This is pretty cool – Their underground territory is like a mansion with rooms for specific purposes, such as nesting, raising young, eating, and even a bathroom for waste disposal šŸ˜Š.
  2. They are herbivores and eat roots and tubers. Some of these can be pretty hard but the naked mole-rat has two strong front teeth, that sit outside of their mouths. They also use them to dig and because they are outside of their mouth, they can close their lips while they work. These teeth are very strong and they can move them independently of each other. Like chopsticks!
  3. They donā€™t drink water! they get all they need from their food.
  4.  They can survive with almost no oxygen and be without it for up to 18 minutes. Research revealed they can live up to 5 hours in a setting with 5% oxygen, they can be entirely without it for up to 18 minutes without harm. Evidence showed they are able to switch to an oxygen-free energy metabolism by relying on fructose rather than on glucose.
  5. They are the longest living rodent and donā€™t show any signs of aging.
  6. They can live up to 17 years in the wild and up to 30 years in a zoo.
  7. They make up to 18 different sounds to communicate with each other.
  8. They appear to feel no pain.
  9. They sleep belly up.

Naked Moles-Rats in Washington DC National Zoo

Watch the video to learn more

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