Mole Rat

Naked mole-rats at


Naked Mole-Rats (Heterocephalus glaber) are rodents- relatives of rats, mice and guinea pigs. But we're very different from our rodent cousins and other mammals like you. - We're "cold-blooded" - we don't create our own body heat. - We're eusocial, which means we live in colonies, much like ants and honeybees. The queen is the only mole-rat in the colony who reproduces.

What is. . .

- Not naked?
- Not a mole?
- Not a rat?

A naked mole-rat.

- Naked mole-rats are cold-blooded mammals that live in colonies of three to three hundred animals.
- The largest member of the colony is the Naked Mole-Rat queen.
- Like a queen bee, the Naked Mole-Rat queen is the only one in the colony who produces offspring.

Can You Find Where I Live?

Naked Mole-Rats live in the semidessert regions of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia
in East Africa. Because Naked Mole-Rats tunnel through fields and eat the roots
and tubers of crops, they are considered pests by farmers.

Pacific Science Center's Naked Mole-Rats are descendants of a colony
in Kenya, Africa.

Can you chew through concrete? I can.

- Naked Mole-Rats have 25% of their muscle mass in their jaws.
- That's as much muscle as you have in one leg.
- They use their tooth to dig tunnels and gather food.

Can you live without drinking water? I can.

- Naked Mole-Rats get both food and moisture from tubers.
- Tubers are roots which store water and nutrients.
- Potatoes and yams are tubers.

Can you bite dirt without getting any in your mouth? I can.

Naked Mole-Rats can close their lips behind their front teeth. Try it.
Using teeth and teamwork, a colony can dig a tunnel two football fields long in only a month.

Can you clean your room and moonwalk at the same time? I can.

Naked Mole-Rats sweep dirt from the tunnels by kicking it as they walk backwards.
Look for the animals doing the "Mole-Rat moonwalk" in the exhibit.

Being a Naked Mole-Rats is hard work Watch us:

- Sleeping: You'll often see us sleeping. We huddle together to keep warm.

- Guarding: Sometimes we only look like we're sleeping. Watch for lone naked
mole-rats guarding the ends of tunnels. What happens when another
Mole-Rat comes along?

- Biting: Our teeth and jaws are strong so we can tunnel through hard ground.
In captivity we get our biting exercise by chewing on our acrylic "tunnels,"
hard foods and even blocks of cement!

-Fighting: Young Naked Mole-Rats lock teeth and nip each other. It's practice for the
job of defending the colony against snakes or Mole-Rats from another colony.

- Doing the "Mole-Rat Moonwalk" We clear our tunnels by walking backwards,
kicking dirt as we go.

Copyright Pacific Science Center 2000
Questions or problems to:
Updated 4. May 2000