mole rat

Heterocephalus glaber

Common name

mole rat


They live in underground tunnels that they make in the savannahs of East Africa. Their tunnel systems reach up to 2 meters deep and are found in areas between 1100-3000 meters of altitude.








70 days

Number of offspring




They feed on roots, bulbs and tubers, which are accessible underground. Sometimes they travel long distances to find their favorite foods, they usually leave parts of the plant intact so that they continue to grow and can return on future occasions. Once the food is found, they return to the nest, where they store it.


25-30 years

Biology and behavior

The skin of naked mole rats is brown and pink, young individuals also have dark spots. The skin has a series of wrinkles and very sensitive small hairs. Due to their underground lifestyle, their eyes are much smaller than those of other rodents, and they depend more on other senses, such as hearing or touch.

They are polyandrous, several individuals participate in reproduction, there is usually a dominant female, the queen, who mates with 1-3 reproductive males, which are usually the largest and oldest in the colony.

Aggressive acts, such as pushing and biting, increase during the breeding season, males and females become aggressive when competing for dominance, since only the dominant individuals will be able to reproduce, the weaker ones will serve as workers, caretakers and protectors.

Naked mole rats do not follow a circadian rhythm, as they spend most of their lives underground in darkness. Thanks to the sensitivity of their short and few hairs, they can guide themselves through the tunnels, for which they also constantly move their heads and tails.

Each colony has its own odor, which serves to distinguish members of other colonies from its own. They have around 18 types of vocalizations for different situations. If they encounter a predator, they quickly return to the nest to warn the rest.


When digging new tunnels, the workers form a very efficient work line, the one in front digs using their incisors, while the others pass the earth to the back, where the last one is in charge of bringing it to the surface. The first also places a stick in her mouth to prevent dirt from entering that could suffocate her.

They have long incisors that separate and move independently. When a predator attacks the colony, all the workers join together, forming an impassable wall for the enemy, with their incisors.

They lack an insulating layer of fat so they cannot maintain body heat, and for this reason they sleep in one of the chambers of the burrow, stacked on top of each other to avoid the cold of the night.

African savanna
Equatorial jungle
Madagascar Island