Monday, December 19, 2011

A Festivus Miracle!

It’s December 19th, and a favorite holiday among naked mole-rats is quickly approaching. That’s right, it’s almost Festivus!

As we shared in this blog story last year, the naked mole-rats presumably celebrate Festivus on the 23rd of December.

They observe the holiday with Feats of Strength,

Airing of Grievances,

and even a naked mole-rat-sized Festivus Pole.

This year, there is even a Festivus miracle! One of our two queens, Galinda, gave birth to a new litter of pups on Sunday night. As with other Festivus miracles, this is something that is easily explainable. Galinda has about five litters a year! This is pretty normal for her! Yet it is also something we anticipate with excitement and a little concern. The health of our queen is key to maintaining a healthy colony, and delivering pups is one of the most risky times for a mole-rat. Each successfully delivered litter truly is a moment to appreciate

With all naked mole-rat litters, there is a very high rate of mortality among the pups. The first few weeks of life for a baby naked mole-rat are extremely difficult. However, we are excited to see babies this time of year and hope for the best. We know from experience and communication with other facilities that there is no added care we can do to help the babies along. By keeping the colony and its queen healthy, we have done our part in the process and must give the colony a few quiet days to establish a bond with the pups. It is up to them now.


  1. Hello,

    Happy Holidays to the Life Science Team and the Naked mole rats!

    I have a question:
    At photo 3 you can see how the mole rats had treat the acrylic glass tube with their teeth. Isn't it bad for their health if they shred such artificial materials (despite they close their mouth behind their teeth while they work)?
    I'd already thought this in your last blog article where you report about the escape of a few naked mole rats (because they bitten through wall material).

    All the best wishes for 2012 and many greetings from

  2. Hi Suzy. I'm so glad you are looking out for our animals, and I hope you could read between the lines how concerned we were when the mole rats chewed through wood and wall board in the earlier article.

    I am less concerned about health risks from them chewing acrylic. Acrylic does not contain BPA's, and is very inert under the conditions we provide. When we buy new acrylic, we allow the pieces to off gas until they have no odor, and then clean them, disinfect, clean again and allow them to air dry. Any residue of the chemicals used in manufacture are thus removed.

    Acrylic is used in many aquarium tanks, because it is shatter resistant. Even the most sensitive fish and amphibians show no harmful effects from being immersed water that is in contact with this substance.

    Lastly, the natural alternatives available have their own problems. I have heard of labs that use glass tubing for mole rat colonies, but I would be more worried about glass particles or dust. We provide seasoned concrete bricks, which the mole-rats seem to enjoy chewing. We have also reduced or eliminated their access to chewing on the PVC elbows that connect their tubes, which are of much more concern as a type of plastic. I would like to find an alternative, but copper or iron connectors are also not meant for chewing, and excess metal consumption can also be a hazard.


  3. Hello Sarah,

    thank you for your unformative and satisfactory answer. I'm always very glad to read about the accuracy and love to the creature in your work with the naked mole rats and the other in the PSC. I love Naked mole rats and had read a lot about them, but your blog is something special. The readers can tune in how difficult it is to find the right terms of husbandry for an animal, especially if it is a Naked mole rat. We can follow your problems with it and its solutions (or consustencies) and we watch like your experiences are growing.

    After your explain I think the acrylic material is a good solution for the animals, too. I had thought about the acrylic dust which can get into them, but you are right - so many animals, especially the fishes, live on close contact with acrylic. The consequences with other materials may be disparate heavier for the mole rats.

    All the best and good luck for the festivus litter and greetings from