NAKED MOLE RATS

Picture a hot dog that’s been left in a microwave a little too long, add some buck teeth at one end, and you’ve got a fairly good idea of what a Naked Mole rat looks like. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

ambience: Naked Mole Rats

We’re listening to the chirping of Africa’s Naked Mole rats. This month, as rain falls over northeastern Africa, these unique animals are becoming active in their vast network of underground tunnels.

Paul Sherman is a Professor of Animal Behavior at Cornell University.

“A Naked Mole rat is first of all a mammal, but it’s one of the most unusual mammals on the earth. It has very little hair. In fact, you and I have more hair than it does. Nowhere on its body is the skin concealed by hair. But you’ve never seen a Naked Mole rat because they never come above ground, and even the local people haven’t seen one. The thing that makes these animals remarkable aside from their sort of hideous appearance, with these great buck teeth sticking out of their mouths, is that they live in huge colonies.”

Naked Mole rats live in colonies with a queen, a handful of breeding males, and lots of non-breeding workers. Yes, bees, ants and termites behave in a similar fashion, and that raises an interesting question for scientists to pursue.

“The interest in this social system is of course the parallel with the social insects. What is it that led to this parallel evolution of two social systems which are so similar in such different looking and acting animals?”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

NAKED MOLE RATS

Picture a hot dog that’s been left in the microwave a little too long and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what a Naked Mole Rat looks like.
Air Date:01/12/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

Picture a hot dog that's been left in a microwave a little too long, add some buck teeth at one end, and you've got a fairly good idea of what a Naked Mole rat looks like. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

ambience: Naked Mole Rats

We're listening to the chirping of Africa's Naked Mole rats. This month, as rain falls over northeastern Africa, these unique animals are becoming active in their vast network of underground tunnels.

Paul Sherman is a Professor of Animal Behavior at Cornell University.

"A Naked Mole rat is first of all a mammal, but it's one of the most unusual mammals on the earth. It has very little hair. In fact, you and I have more hair than it does. Nowhere on its body is the skin concealed by hair. But you've never seen a Naked Mole rat because they never come above ground, and even the local people haven't seen one. The thing that makes these animals remarkable aside from their sort of hideous appearance, with these great buck teeth sticking out of their mouths, is that they live in huge colonies."

Naked Mole rats live in colonies with a queen, a handful of breeding males, and lots of non-breeding workers. Yes, bees, ants and termites behave in a similar fashion, and that raises an interesting question for scientists to pursue.

"The interest in this social system is of course the parallel with the social insects. What is it that led to this parallel evolution of two social systems which are so similar in such different looking and acting animals?"

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.