10 Incredible Naked Mole Rat Facts

Naked Mole rat, hairless rat, isolated on white background
Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jennifer Gaeng

Updated: October 10, 2022

Share on:


The sand puppy, also known as the naked mole-rat, also known as Heterocephalus glaber, is a digging rodent native to Africa, including the Horn, some areas of Kenya, and particularly in Somalia. It is closely related to blesmols and is the only member of the genus Heterocephalus. Their peculiar physical make-up enables them to survive in a hostile underground habitat. The one weighs about a little over one ounce and is only 3 to 4 in long. The heaviest queens, which weigh almost 3 oz., are far larger than the typical queen.

They do quite well adjusting to life underneath since their eyes are tiny, and their optical acuity is weak. Despite having tiny, thin legs, they are quite adept at burrowing underground and can go backward and forwards at the same speed! Ready to learn more about this creepily interesting creature? Keep reading to discover 10 Incredible naked mole rats!

1.      The Naked Mole-Rat Is The Longest Living Rodent

Naked mole-rat laying down

Naked mole-rats bundle together to produce body heat.

The mole rat has evolved to survive in such harsh surroundings, and as a result, it now lives longer. The naked mole-rat can live up to 32 years, but comparable-sized rodents often only live two years. Experts continue to be baffled by the longevity of naked mole rats.

2.      Naked Mole-Rats Have A Social Structure

They are one of just two eusocial mammal species, meaning individuals living in a social hierarchy with specific roles & systems. One community comprises a group of naked mole-rats, each of which plays a certain role.

Mole-rat clusters typically contain 75 to 80 mole-rats but can contain up to 300 animals. They all share a complex network of underground burrows. The mole rats live in communities made up of workers, breeding males and queens, and it is like those of wasps, termites, ants, and bees.

3.      Their Teeth Can Move Independently

Animals That Burrow Underground: Naked Mole Rat

A quarter of a mole rat’s muscle mass is in its jaws.

A naked mole rat may adjust its two lower front incisors independently and deliberately. Their teeth are utilized for many different things, including digging, carrying, eating, fighting, grooming, and moving the young. Chopsticks or fingers can describe the independent movement of the lower incisors.

4.      Naked Mole-Rats Have A Resistance To Cancer

According to research, these little rodents have a strong resistance to tumors and other cancer-related diseases. It is thought that a special defense mechanism called high-molecular-mass hyaluronan is to blame for preventing cancer (HMM-HA). HMM-HA stops cells from crowding together and becoming malignancies.

5.      They Are Unable To Thermoregulate

Naked molerat (Heterocephalus glaber) eating tuber in underground tunnel

Naked mole rats are fundamentally cold-blooded since their body temperatures change with the surrounding temperature.

Naked mole rats hardly ever need to regulate their body temperature because the air in their burrows stays around 30 degrees Celsius all year. These eusocial rats cooperate to maintain their body temperatures.

They cannot keep a constant body temperature, unlike most other mammals. Naked mole rats are fundamentally cold-blooded since their body temperatures change with the surrounding temperature. They reduce their rate of heat loss by congregating in big groups.

6.      The Naked Mole-Rat Can Live In A Zero Oxygen Atmosphere

They spend most of their lives underground, in total darkness. According to research, this rat can survive for up to five hours in an environment with only 5% oxygen, and it can also survive in an environment with 80% CO2.

The Naked mole-rat can survive without oxygen for up to 18 minutes before suffering any consequences. According to a scientific study, naked mole rats switch to an oxygen-free metabolism that uses fructose rather than glucose when they are low on energy.

7.      Their Tunnels Can Extend Up To 3 Miles!

Naked mole rat chamber

The size of a mole-rat colony can equal 20 football fields.

Large colonies create intricate underground tube networks connecting various chambers used for various purposes. There are areas for sleeping, dining, and even using the bathroom. The size of a mole-rat colony can equal 20 football fields. They can accommodate the entire colony because of this extensive canopy and have access to plenty of roots for snacking.

8.      The Queen And Mates Have A Long Relationship

There is only one queen in a colony, and there are no more than three male breeders. While other females are sterile, the breeding males and a queen can create a relationship that can endure for many years.

A queen has a lifespan of 13 to 18 years, and the real queen of a cluster might be quite hostile to another female who poses as a queen. Another female will succeed when a queen passes away, but the title is not automatically transferred. When rivalry is particularly intense, fights may turn violent before establishing a clear winner.

9.      The Naked-Mole Rat Feel No Pain

Naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glazer) adult taking juvenile back to brood chamber.

Due to their undeveloped lungs and strong affinity for oxygen in their blood, naked mole rats have more effective oxygen absorption.

Because the mole-epidermis rats lack neurotransmitters, they cannot be painfully affected by substances like acid and capsaicin. The rats do not exhibit the histamine-induced scratching or itching characteristics typical of rodents because they lack neurotransmitters.

10.   The Naked Mole-Rate Are Built For Their Living Conditions

The habitat of the naked mole-rat will have low oxygen levels, but the animal has adapted to this and can survive in severe conditions happily. Due to their undeveloped lungs and strong affinity for oxygen in their blood, naked mole rats have more effective oxygen absorption.

This underground rodent has evolved to have a low respiratory and metabolic rate for an animal of its size because of the prolonged periods of starvation it experiences. The naked mole-rat can have its metabolism lowered by up to 25%, when necessary, without suffering any negative effects.

Related Animals:




Share this post on:
About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.