Naked Mole Rats are Awesome!

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.

Fast Facts

The Queen….

  • 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.

The Colony..

  • 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

Research?!

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

Medical Miracles..

  • Cannot get cancer.  Any cancer cells are destroyed
  • Cannot retain fat at all

 

 

 

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