Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My hero!

Afarensis defends the much maligned naked mole rats. It's about time someone protests their continuously being labeled as ugly! Not only are naked mole rats cute, but they are also quite amazing: * They are not naked, they are not moles, and they are not rats - the naked mole rat is the only cold blooded mammal. * Naked mole rats have the highest incest rate of all animals. A colony shows 80% genetic resemblance (in comparison: human siblings only show 50% resemblance). * Unlike humans and most other mammals, nursing naked mole rats often have many more pups than mammary glands. Breeding female mole rats have an average of 12 mammae but can have as many as 28 pups at a time. Brookfield Zoo's original queen came to the zoo 1989, bore 45 litters in the course of her life, and produced more than 580 naked mole-rat pups! * Naked mole rats are the only known mammals that operate a hive system, in the way that insects do, with one queen who does all the breeding and lots of workers who have no children of their own. * Vicious fights-to-the-death periodically occur among mole rat females that are vying to become the colony's only breeding female, or "queen." * Naked mole rats in the lab have reached up to 28 years of age. * A mole rat's teeth grow from above and outside of its lips, allowing it to use its teeth for tunneling without getting its mouth full of soil. The animal can move its front teeth independently, spreading them apart and moving them together, like a pair of chopsticks. * The teeth will grow 10 inches in one year, but by gnawing on hard things, they keep their teeth from getting too long. When naked mole rats are kept in captivity they are usually given a block of concrete to chew on. * Naked mole rats in nature kidnap pups from other colonies and bring them back to serve as workers in their own tunnels; naked mole rats will invade neighboring colonies and fight for hostile takeover; and when naked mole rats disperse, or leave the colony to found a new one, they have often been found up to a mile away. * Naked mole rats can run just as fast backwards as forwards. * Naked mole rats produce at least 18 vocalizations — more than any other rodent. Here's a video from the Oregon Zoo. Photo #1: "Eatin Celery" uploaded by knittingskwerlgurl Photo #2: National Geographic


Jan said...

What an intriguing animal. Thanks for your research and posting this.

Jamesola said...

Is the naked mole rat a rare type of mole?