20 Fascinating Naked Mole Rat Facts – Why Are They Called Naked?

by Sankalan Baidya
Fascinating Naked Mole Rat Facts

In our last article on Naked Mole Rats, we learned about their general characteristics and their colony structure. We learned what the Queen rodent does and what are the jobs assigned to the workers and soldiers. However, that wasn’t enough. Let us learn another set of 20 fascinating Naked Mole Rat facts. This time we will learn about their food habits, location and size of their colony, how they make their tunnels and how they navigate through those tunnels. And yes, we will learn why they are called Naked! So, let us begin…

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Note: This article has been created as a continuation of the previous article on Naked Mole Rats. So, it will be best understood if you first read the FIRST PART.


Fascinating Naked Mole Rat Facts: 1-5 | Food Habits, Water, Colony Location and Size

1. The Naked Mole Rats actually eat their own poop as well. Disgusting but needed! The reason they do this is that the tubers they eat are pretty difficult to digest. So, they eat their poop so extract more nutrient out of the food.

2. Do Naked Mole Rats drink water? Naked Mole Rats never dig for water. They don’t need to drink water simply because the extract all the moisture they need from the tubers and roots that they eat.

3. Where do Naked Mole Rats build their colonies? They usually thrive in the areas that have large numbers of plants with pretty large underground roots.

4. The tunnels they dig can be right under the surface or can reach up to the depth of 6.5 feet (2 meters). These tunnels have branches and interconnections. The total tunnel length can be up to 2.5 miles.

5. A particular colony’s tunnel system can be very large (in terms of area covered). The whole area covered by a single tunnel system of a typical Naked Mole Rat colony can be as large as the area covered by 6 football fields!

Fascinating Naked Mole Rat Facts: 6-10 | Tunnel System, Intruding Colony

6. The chambers inside a tunnel system are located strategically to ensure that the whole system remains clean and healthy. The rooms or chambers are located at different points in a tunnel system and this ensures safety of the members of the colony.

7. It is not really unusual to have multiple tunnel systems located in close proximity. Each individual tunnel system is owned by a separate colony of Naked Mole Rats.

8. The question is, ‘if there are several tunnel systems in close proximity, how do the members of a particular colony identify the members of a different colony?’ They basically make use of their sense of smell because their eyesight is poor.

9. The members of each colony will go to their bathroom chamber and roll on the fecal matter and urine. This will give then a common smell.

10. When members of a different colony intrude or come in accidentally, they are identified easily with the smell. The members of a different colony will have a different type of smell.

Fascinating Naked Mole Rat Facts: 11-15 | Teeth and Navigation

11. The Naked Mole Rats have large and long incisors. Those teeth are very sharp. Such teeth are necessary for cutting the tough tubers and roots.

12. Also, the large incisors aid in digging. Their lips remain tightly shut right behind their incisors when they are busy digging. This ensures that the soil doesn’t enter their mouths.

13. The incisors are pretty interesting. They can actually move separately. Yes, the large front teeth can spread apart and move independently just like chopsticks! These incisors keep growing throughout their whole life time.

14. Are Naked Mole Rats blind? As opposed to popular belief, they are not blind. They do have eyes – very tiny ones and they cannot see properly. They have poor eyesight.

15. How do Naked Mole Rats navigate? They have a very keen sense of smell and touch. They use these senses to navigate around in the underground tunnels.

Fascinating Naked Mole Rat Facts: 16-20 | Why Naked?

16. Why are Naked Mole Rats called naked? They are so called because of the lack of hair on their body. Yes, they don’t have enough hair to keep their skin covered. Hence, the name.

17. Is there no hair on Naked Mole Rats at all? They do have hair. They have about 100 hair on their bodies. These hair are very fine and they actually help them to sense their surroundings. Yes, the hair acts like whiskers and are their primary sensory organs.

18. They have hair right between their toes as well. The hair between their toes help in sweeping back the soil that they dig when creating tunnels using their incisors.

19. Why don’t they have hair? The reason is simple. They live underground and since they stay away from sun always, there is no need to have a body fully covered with hair to achieve insulation from sun.

20. Since they have no hair, how do they keep themselves warm? They just cuddle up against each other in form of a pile and make use of their body heat to keep each other warn. However, during winter months they may also move to shallow parts of the tunnels where the temperature is bit high and during summers, they may retreat to greater depths to stay cool (Read More in Thermoregulation Section in our next article of Naked Mole Rats).

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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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