If you visit the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in NW DC, and stroll down Olmstead Walk to the Small Mammal House, you will see an exhibit of Mole Rats in I guess what could be called a stereotypical clear tube habitat. As a volunteer tour guide, I usually just take my tour into the house to see the Golden Lion Tamarins, but this past Wednesday at a training session, we were able to meet some of the mammals at the Small Mammal House and these are by far the most amazing I have come across…
Colonies are for the bees and ants?
Actually not just insects live in a matriarchal colony. Naked Mole Rats can live in a colony of up to 300 individuals that roll in their dung and urine to maintain a distinctive smell for identification. A single colony can span a football field.
- Queen suppresses estrus in other females so she has exclusive breeding rights and ability.
- The Queen can have up to 30 babies 3 times a year with a 70 day gestation period.
- Queen typically only lives to be 13-18.
- Any female has the ability to be the Queen. Once selected as the Queen, the females body will elongate and she will morph into a Queen.
- Up to 300 individuals in a colony.
- There is one Queen and a few husbands with the remainder having distinct lifelong roles such as food gatherers, or baby sitters 🙂
- Never come above ground and eat roots of plants.
- Live at 80 degrees and CANNOT thermo-regulate (aka sweat)
- While naked, they have hair in mouth which classifies them as mammals.
- Poor eyesight
- Live into 30s, though a Queen only lives 13-18 years.
- Tunnel system for a colony can cover a football field
I sure hope we are studying Naked Mole rats to someday find a cure for cancer. The shedding of all body fat would not be something to strive for, but certainly a way to help maintain a healthy body weight and fat percentage would be good. Perhaps it is the lack of light or maybe limited oxygen, or the diet of roots…maybe a new diet fad? LOL
- Cannot get cancer. Any cancer cells are destroyed
- Cannot retain fat at all