Friday, June 12, 2009

Naked Mole Rat

Having a full time job means I don't get to do a lot of work for my own blog anymore, which makes me sad. But right now I have a few moments to put up another awesome post about a weird animal. This time I chose another animal that is near and dear to my heart: the Naked Mole Rat. Back in Seattle, the Science Center has a community of Naked Mole Rats living in a viewable subterrain.

Quick and dirty: Naked Mole Rats are rodents that live in underground communities. They are one of only two known eusocial mammals, meaning they live similarly to ants and termites, in large groups with a queen and workers and such. They live in harsh conditions, and have adapted to such, with skin that has almost no pain sensation, and a low metabolism.

The very first thing one might notice about these strange looking little guys is their lack of pigment, interesting dental work and nearly blind stare. Their teeth are situated in front of their lips, so that when they burrow (by using their teeth) they don't get dirt in their mouths. They are very nearly blind, can run backwards as fast as they can run forwards and very little hair (naked...).

These guys are native to Eastern Africa, and despite the harsh living conditions they inhabit, they aren't an endangered species. They can live up to 20 years, but a large portion of that time is spent sleeping. These funky little creatures are despised by some and often called ugly (but really, come on, they're endearing), yet they manage to live on, albeit, in a very unusual way. Check them out, at your local zoo if possible, or on the web, they're really quite something.

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