Naked Mole-Rat

ANIMAL:
Naked Mole-Rat Heterocephalus glaber

Type of Animal:
Mole-Rat

Habitat:
Underground tunnels/burrows in semi-arid/arid regions-grasslands, savanna, semi-desert, desert, occurs at elevations as high as 9,842.52 ft

Location(s):
SE Ethiopia, Somalia, E Kenya

Appearance:
Almost hairless, thin short legs, wrinkled pink skin, large protruding teeth, tubular shape

Food/Diet:
Roots, tubers, bulbs, rhizomes, fruit, legumes, greens, vegetables, coprophagic (eats own poop), bones, seeds

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos

Lifestyle:
1 of very few eusocial mammals (several generations live together & very few individuals produce offspring)-colonies of 70-300 consist of queen, 3 breeding males (boars), sterile workers (care for queen’s pups, dig tunnels, scout food, etc,), soldiers (defend colony from predators/invaders, protect queen, etc.), & pups (3-30 per litter, queen can have up to 4 litters per year). Dispersal rare.

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: 
Boar (breeder)
Soldier/Worker
(nonbreeder)
Female: 
Queen (breeder)
Worker/Soldier
(nonbreeder)
Young: Pup
Group: Colony
 
Weight:
Male: 
Boar-2 oz
Soldier-1.8 oz
Worker-1 oz
Female: 
Queen-2.5 oz
Soldier-1.8 oz
Worker-1 oz
Young: 0.4 oz

Gestation:
9 weeks 

Life Span:
13-18 years in wild, 30 years in captivity

Body Length:
Male:
Boar-3.5 in
Soldier-3 in
Worker-3 in
Female:
Queen-4 in
Soldier-3 in
Worker-3 in

Tail Length:
Male:
Boar-1.75 in
Soldier-1.5 in
Worker-1.5 in
Female:
Queen-2 in
Soldier-1.5 in
Worker-1.5 in

Main predators are snakes & raptors.
 
When queen dies, power struggles between females fierce & often fatal for that position.
 
Tunnels around 1.5 in in diameter, w/ some running just under ground surface & others being 6.5-8 ft deep-whole tunnel system can be as large as 6 football fields & consisting of nesting chamber where queen stays/gives birth (colony rests/sleeps here), feeding chambers for collecting/storing food, & toilet chamber at dead-end of tunnel among others.
 
To defend colony, soldiers pile up to block entrance.
 
They’re not blind but eyes very small.
 
Rarely come above ground, living virtually entire lives in darkness.
 
Dispersal rare, resulting in high levels of inbreeding, possibly most inbred of all mammals.
 
Unlike most other mammals, they can’t maintain steady body temp.

Fun Fact(s):
Despite name, more closely related to porcupines & guinea pigs than rats.
 
Despite small size, they’re the longest-lived rodents.
 
Appear to be resistant to cancer.

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