01 December 2009

Naked mole rats

The naked mole-rat is the longest living rodent with a maximum lifespan exceeding 28 years. [Mice live a couple of years.] In addition to its longevity, naked mole-rats have an extraordinary resistance to cancer as tumors have never been observed in these rodents.

Despite the fact that they burrow underground like moles and have rat-like tails, naked mole-rats are in fact neither moles nor rats. [They] are more closely related to porcupines, chinchillas, and guinea pigs than to their namesakes.

Much like ants, termites, and some bees and wasps, naked mole-rats are considered “eusocial,” or truly social. They live in large colonies, presided over by a queen, in which only the queen and a few select males breed while the rest of the colony—all members of the same family—work together to raise young and maintain the colony.

Braude has observed mole rats in the wild that are 17 years and older. But these are the breeders... in the wild workers only live two or three years.
via the new shelton wet/dry.


  1. And the subject of an excellent children's book: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems.

  2. Amazing animals! Another odd fact about them: they have no sense of pain. They may have lost it since they live a tough life underground digging with their teeth. They have lost a neurotransmitter that necessary for pain, but scientists have injected them with it and boom, they feel pain for the first time in their life! Hard to imagine...

  3. That's so hard to believe that I double-checked you (no offense...) with a net search, and you're absolutely right! I would have thought that retention of such reflexes would be a survival necessity, but apparently their environment is so specialized that it's better to forego that ability. Another miracle... of evolution.

  4. And yet, all I can think about is Kim Possible.


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