Photo: Litter of naked mole rats born in time for Chinese New Year
February 10, 2008
The Bronx Zoo introduces some of its favorite little herbivore critters — a new litter of naked mole rat “pups” arriving just in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year — Year of the Golden Rat. Naked mole rats can be seen everyday at their World of Darkness exhibit. Native to the tropical grasslands of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, the Zoo’s habitat gives a visual “slice of life” in a naked mole rat colony. Literally, the exhibit was designed to go deep underground to provide Zoo-goers with a view of this complex tunneling-system. Naked mole rats have a social system similar to bees with a queen (the only reproductive female), workers, and breeders.
Julie Larsen Maher ? WCS
Additionally, a Mole-Cam (mini-camera) follows the routine of the colonies performing their tasks including burrowing, collecting and storing food, eating, huddling, and even catching a few winks in their underground home.
Pink and wrinkly with prominent incisors to excavate their extensive tunnels, their few fine body hairs and whiskers help them “feel” their way through their dark quarters. Though not totally blind, they see very little with their tiny eyes, relying on their sense of hearing, smell, and touch.
Interestingly, these rodents are more closely related to porcupines, chinchillas and guinea pigs than they are to rats or moles.
The Bronx Zoo is open everyday with a unique opportunity to celebrate the Year of the Golden Rat at the World of Darkness. For more information, visit bronxzoo.com or call 718-367-1010.