Oddities of the Naked Mole Rat Colony

Oddities of the Naked Mole Rat Colony



Naked mole rats, scientifically known as Heterocephalus glaber, are fascinating creatures found in the underground tunnels of Eastern Africa. These unusual animals possess a number of peculiarities that distinguish them from other mammals. In this article, we’ll delve into some of the most intriguing oddities of the naked mole rat colony.

1. Social Structure


The social structure of naked mole rat colonies is highly unique. Unlike most mammals, naked mole rats live in a eusocial society, similar to bees and ants. Each colony consists of a single queen, a few breeding males, and several non-breeding workers. The queen dominates the colony with authority, while the workers take care of the day-to-day activities such as gathering food, digging tunnels, and protecting the nest.

2. Subterranean Lifestyle


Naked mole rats are exclusively subterranean animals, spending their entire lives underground. They construct complex tunnel systems that extend for several kilometers. These tunnels serve multiple purposes, including foraging for food, shelter, and protection from predators.

3. Resistance to Cancer


One of the most astonishing traits of naked mole rats is their resistance to cancer. Despite living long lives, up to 30 years in captivity, naked mole rats rarely develop cancerous tumors. Scientists have been studying these creatures to understand the mechanisms behind their resistance, which could potentially help find cures for cancer in humans.

4. Adaptations to Low Oxygen Levels


Naked mole rats have evolved remarkable adaptations to cope with the low levels of oxygen present in their underground habitat. These animals have a unique respiratory system that allows them to survive in environments with very little oxygen. Despite their small size, naked mole rats can tolerate high levels of carbon dioxide and have the ability to lower their metabolic rate to conserve energy.

5. Lack of Pain Sensation


It has been observed that naked mole rats have an unusual insensitivity to pain. These animals lack specific neurotransmitters associated with pain sensation, making them impervious to certain painful stimuli. This remarkable feature has captured the attention of researchers seeking to develop analgesics and uncover potential treatments for chronic pain in humans.



The naked mole rat colony exhibits a multitude of oddities that make them truly remarkable creatures. From their eusocial structure and subterranean lifestyle to their immunity to cancer, adaptations to low oxygen levels, and insensitivity to pain, these animals continue to fascinate scientists and offer insights into various fields of research. The peculiarities of the naked mole rat colony make it an intriguing subject deserving of further exploration and study.

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