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Naked Mole-Rat

Heterocephalus glaber

Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Bathyergidae

Appearance:

Naked Mole-Rat at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Very little hair; some whiskers and hair on their feet. Skin is wrinkly, pink or greyish-pink. Very large incisors are used to excavate tunnels. Short, broad head contains powerful jaw muscles. Tiny eyes, no external ears. About seven centimeters (three inches) long, and 30 to 70 grams (one to 2.4 ounces).

Home Range:

Eastern Africa—Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia

Habitat:

Exclusively in underground tunnels and burrows in semi-arid, grassy regions

Diet:

Herbivorous, mostly tubers and roots

Reproduction:

After 70 to 80 days, ten to 27 pups are born.

Social Structure:

Only known mammal to be eusocial (living in a colony like termites and ants) with a caste system. Colonies range from 20 to 300 individuals, with one breeding female (the queen) and one to three breeding males. Other males and females do not breed, and are either workers or soldiers.

Life span:

Ten to 30 years

Predators

Mostly snakes, such as the Rufous-beaked snake.