Naked mole rat in exhibit

Naked Mole Rat

Scientific Name
Heterocephalus glaber
Geographic Range
East Africa
Underground parts of plants, particularly succulent tubers
Naked mole rat in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

Naked mole rats are small, subterranean rodents around 3 inches long. Their weight varies by role, but adult rodents are generally between 1–2.5 ounces, with the queen being the heaviest. They are nearly hairless, except for sensory whiskers on their face and tail and hairs between their toes that help sweep away soil. They have wrinkled, pink or grayish-pink skin, along with short, broad heads. Their jaws and very large incisors are quite powerful. They use those teeth to dig tunnels.

Their colonies average 70 individuals but may get up to almost 300. Naked mole rats make extensive and complex underground burrows that can be up to 2.5 miles long, connecting different areas for nesting, storing food, or defecating. The queen is the one female that produces offspring, after mating with a few of the colony’s males, but everyone cares for the pups that result. She may have up to five litters a year, with an average of 12 pups each. Pups start working at three or four weeks of age and reach maturity at 1 year.

Did You Know?

  • Naked mole rats are the world’s longest-living rodents. They never go above ground.
  • Naked mole rats live in eusocial societies, much like bees or ants. Colonies have a single breeding female (the queen) and workers that act together for the good of the group.
  • When digging through hard soil, naked mole rats work in assembly lines. A digger will pass dirt to a sweeper, who passes it to a volcanoer, who kicks the dirt out of the tunnel.


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