In the world of animal models, naked mole rats are the supermodels. They rarely get cancer , are resistant to some types of pain, and can survive up to 18 minutes without oxygen. But perhaps their greatest feat, a new paper suggests, is that they don't age. The first study to analyze the life histories of thousands of naked mole rats has found that their risk of death doesn't go up as they grow older, as it does for every other known mammalian species. Although some scientists caution against any sweeping conclusions, many say the new data are important and striking. Scientists have long noted that naked mole rats—burrowing rodents with wrinkled, pink skin and large protruding teeth that live in large, subterranean colonies—show few signs of aging and far surpass the life span expected of a rodent this size.
They get all the hydration they need from their plant-based diet! Mole-rats eat the underground parts of plants. They typically only consume part of a root or tuber, leaving enough behind for it to survive and provide another meal. Naked mole-rats are one of the only true eusocial mammals, meaning they live in large colonies with just one breeding female, called the queen. The queen is the only mole-rat to produce offspring, and a single litter averages 12 to 28 pups. Bonus: Their lips close behind their front teeth, which keeps dirt out of their mouths when digging!
Yes, these odd little creatures with pink, wrinkly skin dig and live in underground burrows the way moles do. Yes, they have skinny, rat-like tails. Why are they "naked"? Native to the desert regions of East Africa, which can be pretty warm during the day, naked mole-rats live underground.
Ewan St. John Smith does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. The naked mole-rat is perhaps one of the most bizarre beasts on the planet.