Naked mole-rat Amazing Animal

Yak's Corner

Just for kids

October 26, 1998|By Patricia Chargot

What is it?

A naked mole-rat is not a mole or a rat. It's a nearly blind, nearly bald rodent that's so ugly it's cute. It lives underground, digging tunnels and eating potatoes.

Why is it weird?

It lives in large groups, like bees and ants. The group has only one mother, called a queen, and one to three fathers. All the other naked mole-rats are their children, called workers. Some groups have as many as 250 workers. Workers can't have babies.

How big is it?

Queens and fathers are 3 to 4 inches long, not counting tails. Workers are 2 to 3 inches long, not counting tails. Some workers are larger than others. The larger ones lie around all day while the smaller ones work. Some scientists think the larger ones are soldiers.

What can it do?

It can dig tunnels with its teeth. The tunnels connect to rooms that are used for the queen's nest and the group's garbage dump. The mole-rats also can plug a tunnel real fast if a snake tries to get in.

What happens when the queen dies?

Three or four of her daughters grow larger than the rest. They fight to become queen.

Where is the Naked Mole-rat's home?

Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.

Source: Richard Alexander, director of the University of Michigan Zoology Museum

Pub Date: 10/26/98

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