Naked Mole Rats Seen At The Singapore Zoo


Places, Religion 24 Comments

The Singapore Zoological Gardens opened a 50-sq-metre exhibition of naked mole rats and a scaled-down version of their complex living environment. The exhibit mimics their system of burrows in the wild. The exhibit has glass-fronted panels for visitors to view the rodents at work and play.


Photo Credit: Flickr.

The naked mole rat is a burrowing rodent native to parts of East Africa (predominantly southern Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia) deserts, only one of two mammals known to have a social structure similar to social insects, can live up to 28 years, almost eight times longer than mice. Clusters averaging 75 to 80 individuals live together in complex systems of burrows. The tunnel systems built by naked mole rats can stretch up to five kilometres in cumulative length and covering an area as big as six football fields.

Only one female (the queen) and one to three males reproduce, while the rest of the members of the colony function as workers. The queen and breeding males are able to breed at one year of age. The young are born blind and weigh about 2 grams. The queen nurses them for the first month; after which the other members of the colony feed them feces until they are old enough to eat solid food. Workers are sterile, with the smaller focusing on gathering food and maintaining the nest, while larger workers are more reactive in case of attack.

Naked mole rats’ substance P deficiency has also been tied to their lack of the histamine-induced itching. The naked mole-rat therefore lacks itch and pain-related behavior.

Daily feeding sessions are held at 11.30am.

Naked mole rats feed primarily on very large tubers (weighing as much as 1000 times the body weight of a typical mole rat) that they find deep underground through their mining operations. A single tuber can provide a colony with a long-term source of food—lasting for months, or even years. Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season.

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