One of the most remarkable aspects of life on Earth is that it may assume many different forms, even if they appear strange to the naked sight. A species known as the naked mole rat has to be one of the strangest sorts of terrestrial creatures. Although it is a rodent, it is not a rat or a mole. It spends much of its time underground in colonies of 75 to 80 mole rats, however a colony can contain as many as 200 individuals. It is nearly blind and mostly hairless. The colony’s existence centres on a queen, who is the only female able to reproduce.
Naked Mole Rat Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Rodentia
- Family: Heterocephalidae
- Genus: Heterocephalus
- Scientific Name: Heterocephalus glaber
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Locations: Africa
Naked Mole Rat Facts
- Name Of Young: Pup
- Group Behavior: Colony
- Fun Fact: Naked mole rats don’t get cancer
- Estimated Population Size: Unknown, but they are of Least Concern
- Biggest Threat: None
- Most Distinctive Feature: They’re mammals but live much like social insects.
- Other Name(s): Sand puppy
- Gestation Period: 70 days
- Litter Size: 3 to as much as 28 pups
- Habitat: Underground
- Predators: Snakes and birds of prey
- Diet: Omnivore
- Favorite Food: Tubers, roots, rhizomes, bulbs
- Type: Mammal
- Common Name: Naked mole rat
- Number Of Species: 1
- Location: the horn of Africa
- Group: Colony, dominated by a queen
Naked Mole Rat Physical Characteristics
- Colour: Yellow, Pink
- Skin Type: Skin
- Lifespan: As much as 32 years
- Weight:1 to 1.2 ounces, though queens can weigh 2.8 ounces
- Length: 3 to 4 inches
- Age of Sexual Maturity: 228 days for females, a year for males
- Age of Weaning: One month
5 Incredible Naked Mole Rat facts!
- The naked mole rat colony resembles a hive of bees rather than a group of animals. It is ruled by a matriarch or queen, who is supported by the rest of the community. She is the only female permitted to reproduce, just like the queen bee.
- The naked mole rat is a cold-blooded creature, meaning its body temperature is influenced by its environment.
- Its pink skin has no pain receptors.
- It has a very slow metabolism.
- The naked mole rat can survive for 18 minutes without oxygen and thrives in an environment of 80% carbon dioxide and 20% oxygen. It does so by tapping into fructose reserves in its essential organs, including the brain. The only animal capable of doing so is the naked mole rat.
Naked Mole Rat Scientific name
Heterocephalus glaber is the scientific name for the naked mole rat. In Greek, heterocephalus means “two-headed” or “different-headed,” and it refers to both a malformed foetus with two unequal heads and the genus to which the naked mole rat belongs. It’s likely that the scientist who first looked at the strange-looking animal developed such a defect. Although the naked mole rat’s skin is wrinkled and lacks a layer of fat beneath it, the Latin word “glaber” means “smooth and hairless.” In its genus, the naked mole rat is the sole species.
Naked Mole Rat Appearance
The naked mole rat is a small rodent with a cylindrical body and pinkish skin that is nearly totally hairless, yet it has minute, sensitive hairs all over its body that allow it to navigate in the darkness of its burrow. Hairs between the toes of the mole rat allow it to brush dirt away. Underneath the epidermis, there is no insulating fat. Males and females are roughly the same size, with the exception of breeding males and the queen, who are somewhat bigger. It has a medium-length tail, short legs, and proportionately big digging feet.
The naked mole rat’s eyes are virtually vestigial, but they have thicker eyelids that keep the dirt out, because it spends the majority of its existence in an underground burrow devoid of light. The rodents’ teeth are large and chisel-like, identifying them as rodents. They dig into the earth with the assistance of their teeth, which can move independently of one another like scissors or chopsticks. A complex system of muscles ensures that the animal’s mouth remains closed behind its teeth, preventing it from swallowing the soil. The sand puppy’s brain has a large portion of the somatosensory cortex dedicated to its teeth.
Naked Mole Rat Behavior
Because a sand puppy colony cannot tell the difference between day and night, it is busy at all times. The colony’s job is done by non-breeding mole rats. They look for food, defend the borrow, and create molehills once the pups have been weaned. Younger members look after the young, like as some species of bees and wasps, while older members act as soldiers. The queen and breeding males are only interested in one thing: procreation. The queen is usually fed first, despite the fact that she bullies the other mole rats in her burrow. She generates hormones to prevent other females from reproducing, and if she dies, the colony’s older females will battle for supremacy.
The animals create a line when digging the burrow, with the first digging with its teeth and the others pushing the loose soil down to the last, who then deposits it above ground, creating a molehill.
Every burrow of a naked mole rat has its own distinct odour. This helps members who can’t see well to distinguish between relatives and strangers. Colonies have their unique vocalisations that warn of danger and allow family members to distinguish themselves in the dark. While sleeping, naked mole rats must cluster together to be warm, and they sleep on their backs. They also crawl up into sun-heated caverns that are closer to the surface.
The lifespan of naked mole rats is considerably longer than that of other rodents. A mole rat may live for 30 years or more, but a mouse lives for approximately three years. Furthermore, they do not appear to age. No one knows why, despite the fact that their DNA can repair itself considerably more efficiently over time than mice’s DNA.
Naked Mole Rat Habitat
Burrows and tunnels are dug by naked mole rats in the savannas and grasslands of east African nations like Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, however they may also be found in Tanzania and Uganda. The tunnels are roughly 6.5 feet deep, and they may be 2.5 miles long because they branch off into additional tunnels and chambers that serve as larders, bathrooms, and nests. Colonies of naked mole rats may be found at elevations ranging from 3608 to 9843 feet above sea level. Naked mole rats are usually left to their own devices since they construct their nests in areas that are not of agricultural importance to humans. Their oddness protects them, and they play an important role in Kenya’s ecotourism. They can also be found in zoos and other protected locations.
Naked Mole Rat Diet
These animals eat tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, and roots, which are subterranean portions of plants. Some of these buildings are enormous, capable of feeding a whole colony for years. The animals don’t devour all of the subterranean constructions; instead, they store some in their burrows. If the path to the plant is blocked, this allows the plant to regrow and the colony to have food. If the soil becomes moist, blockages might form. The microorganisms in the animal’s stomach help it digest the cellulose in its diet. They don’t need to drink since they obtain all of their water from their diet.
These creatures do eat their own faeces on occasion, it must be acknowledged. They also feed excrement to puppies that have just been weaned. Scientists believe that this activity, known as coprophagy, aids in the strengthening of familial connections. Female naked mole rats’ reproductive hormones may be suppressed by hormones contained in the queen’s excrement, for example.
Naked Mole Rat Predators and Threats
Snakes prey on these creatures, grabbing them as they surface or allowing them to enter their tunnels. The rufous beaked snake is one of these snakes. While they are above ground, raptors, or birds of prey, might swoop down on them. Naked mole rats can be harmed by toxins put into the food supply.
Naked Mole Rat Reproduction and Life Cycle
In most colonies, only the queen is permitted to reproduce, however some colonies have two queens. She will mate with one to three males, many of whom are connected to her in some way. All non-breeding naked mole rats are rated lower than these guys, who are second in rank to her. Only these larger, higher-ranking males will be allowed to mate with the queen.
The sand puppy has no sense of day or night, thus there is no breeding season, and the queen can reproduce all year. This implies she has the potential to have up to five litters every year. Her pregnancy lasts around 70 days, and she typically gives birth to seven to eleven puppies. A baby is extremely little, weighing less than one cent. It is weaned after about a month and placed in the care of lower-ranking mole rats. When a young mole rat is approximately a month old, it begins working for the colony and is battered around by adult mole rats to get it acclimated to a hard existence.
The queen’s consorts do not mate with the new queen if she dies. By the way, a female experiences bodily changes when she becomes queen. Her spinal column extends out, allowing her to carry the pregnancy to term. This is how a young naked mole rat may seem.
Despite the fact that inbreeding is a risk in a colony, scientists have found disperser mole rats. The queen will not mate with these mole rats, and they are typically uncooperative when it comes to colony maintenance. As a result, they try to flee the colony as soon as possible and locate another with a queen who is not related to them.
Naked Mole Rat Population
Scientists are unsure of the exact number of these creatures, however they are not endangered.
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