They’re like nothing you’ve ever seen and they draw you in with their secretive lives. Meet one of nature’s weirdest creatures – The Naked Mole Rat. Found only in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the naked mole rat, a.k.a. the sand puppy is a biological and medical marvel.
10 Highly Interesting & Funny Facts about the Naked Mole Rat
- The naked mole rat isn’t a mole or a rat. It’s actually related to the porcupine and Guinea pig.
- Naked mole rat colonies are eusocial – there is a queen, there are workers, soldiers and nurses (just like bees, wasps and ants). Some colonies can number in the 300s.
- Unlike other eusocial queens (read bees, wasps and ants), naked mole rat queens are warriors and fight for the throne. Even after the victory, the queen needs to be on guard and be ready for a fight, to avoid being dethroned by a competitor.
- Naked mole rats almost never come above ground, choosing to live in tunnels for their entire lives. This is why their eyes are super-tiny and they are virtually blind, relying on their hearing to live and work.
- A mole rat’s incisor teeth can move independently of each other, like two antennas that can operate separately when digging. But they can be made to move together like chopsticks when foraging for food.
- When under attack, soldier mole rats climb one on top of the other to form a barricade to the tunnel entrance. They open their mouths and display their sharp teeth towards the entrance, gnashing them in the process. Any marauder entering the tunnel is greeted by a wall of deadly teeth.
- Punishment of misbehaving members of the mole rat community includes biting and shoving. The worse the behaviour, the worse is the bite; and it’s usually the queen who metes out the punishment.
- Naked mole rats can’t feel pain! Their skin doesn’t contain ‘substance P’ which is the key neurotransmitter which acts as a receptor for pain. Experiments show that pouring capascin or acid on the rats don’t elicit a response at all.
- Naked mole rat tunnels are divided into ‘rooms’ and are allocated for specific purposes such as the queen’s chamber, nursery and food storage area. There’s even a specific bathroom where all colony members go to poo.
- The naked mole rat has a superpower – immortality (or close to it)! Mole rats can live without oxygen for up to 18 minutes and they are the only known animals completely immune to cancer.
Interesting aren’t they?
P.S: Featured image