Naked Mole Rat

January 22, 2021

Lincoln Park Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of a litter of naked mole rat pups on December 18, 2020 at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House. Six naked mole rat pups are doing well and continue to surpass critical milestones.

Photo by Bryan Summerford

The new arrivals are the first successful litter of naked mole rat pups at the zoo in a decade!

The colony of naked mole rats at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House has resided at the zoo since 1996 and consists of 23 adults. Naked mole rats have a eusocial colony structure in which one female, also known as the queen, leads the colony and produces all the offspring.

Photo by Bryan Summerford

Identifiable by their gnarly set of choppers and pink, translucent skin, this species is unlike most other rodents. They can live up to 30 years, and offspring grow and mature extremely slow. The queen of the colony nurses the pups for the first month. Then, the other members of the colony feed the pups fecal pap, a special kind of pellet produced by naked mole rats that is rich in nutrients and microbes, until they are old enough to eat solid food. Naked mole rats reach sexual maturity around the age of 7-9 months old. In comparison, domestic rats reach sexual maturity at 6 weeks of age.