Monday, October 25, 2010

Having a Ball!

It’s easy for us humans to get swept up in football season every fall, but have our naked mole-rats also caught the same football fever? After feeding our colony recently, one mole-rat was observed scurrying around from chamber-to-chamber-to-chamber with a little green ball in its mouth. While we watched we couldn’t help but be reminded of a NFL receiver running for a first down. Are we really witnessing naked mole-rat football?

First, we noticed one mole-rat with the green ball held firmly in his mouth as he scampered non-stop through the tubes and chambers, heedless of the other mole-rats.

When the ball carrier finally stopped to eat some food, another mole-rat took over. This ball-carrying mole-rat repeated the same peripatetic activity to the delight of our guests.

At one point, the ball was in a scrum between several other naked mole-rats. Eventually, “Hairless Houdini” emerged with the ball in his mouth. While the others were distracted with food and basic mole-rat sniffing behavior, Houdini took the ball, buried it in the potty chamber then nonchalantly returned to his chums. Game over!

As you may have guessed, the “little green ball” is actually a solitary grape that Animal Caretakers include in the food assortment that we give the colony. We’ve never seen them eat the grape, but they sure have fun playing with it.

As much fun as it is to witness this adorable game, we can’t help but wonder what’s going on in the mole-rats’ activity. Are they showing competitive behavior, performing a social function or merely having fun? What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I surmise that "Houdini" pretty obviously expressed his oppinion of grapes taking away room for real food. :P

    Yours sincerely
    Jesper K. Boesen