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Naked Mole-Rats

Classification
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Bathyergidae
  • Genus: Heterocephalus
  • Species: glaber
Fun Fact

Naked mole-rat colonies can have up to 300 members living together in an underground tunnel system that  has the potential to be as large as six football fields. 

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About Naked Mole-Rats

Naked mole-rats live underground, therefore they don’t need hair to protect them from the sun. Although these mammals don’t have fur, they aren’t completely naked. They have fine hairs and whiskers on their nose, tail and between their toes. These sensory whiskers and hairs help naked mole-rats navigate their dark, large living quarters and help them move dirt from their tunnels. Naked mole-rats dig tunnels with their large front teeth that connect different chambers, which all have different purposes. They create rooms for nesting, storing food and going to the bathroom!

Like bees and ants, naked mole-rats have specific jobs for each member of the colony. The queen, whose job is to breed and care for pups, must fight for her dominant position. The naked mole-rats designated as soldiers protect the colony from threats by calling to others and fending off predators with their sharp teeth. Last but not least, worker mole rats dig tunnels, create chambers, scout for food and even care for the queen’s pups. Naked mole-rats are the only known mammal to practice this caste system.

Naked Mole-Rats in the Wild

Habitat

Naked mole-rats dig tunnel and chamber systems around large plants with underground roots. They spend the majority of their lives underground where their tunnels stay around 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Naked mole-rats are able to survive with little to no oxygen underground and will only surface occasionally to search for seeds or plants.

Location

Naked mole-rats are indigenous to Africa and are found in regions throughout Somalia, central Ethiopia and eastern Kenya.

Diet

Naked mole-rats are herbivores who eat the roots, tubers and bulbs of surrounding plants. They also eat their own droppings because it provides extra protein and nutrients essential for a healthy diet. 

Population Status

Common; least concern