Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kickin’ with the Naked Mole Rats

Digging is a way of life for the Naked Mole Rats. Living almost entire lives underground, natural pathways aren’t something you come across very frequently. Armed with large constantly growing teeth and some serious determination, naked mole rats are able to dig and chew their way through almost anything.

To keep our mole rats busy in their tube system, Animal Care staff members have been giving them an extra challenge to maneuver around. Ranging from their own bedding material to their food, we’ve been trying to keep that digging instinct at work while keeping them from digging their way out!

But when digging up fresh tunnels, in dirt or Carefresh, the extra material needs a place to go. This is where “volcano-ing” comes to play. Mole rats will line up along a tube or pathway and pass dirt down the row, until it gets to the last one. The mole rat at the end, instead of kicking the bedding backward, kicks it up through a vent hole, and out into the world above. This creates volcano shaped mounds of dirt which allows people to locate naked mole rat tunnel systems for research purposes in the wild. But how do we allow the mole rats to kick out things at the Science Center but keep them in?

The answer is simple. A funnel! A hole large enough for bedding material, but too small for naked mole rats will allow for containing the animals inside but leave them free to create a huge mess for Animal Caretakers to clean up the next morning. So next time you’re at the Naked Mole Rat exhibit, keep your eyes out for digging, kicking, and the maze of tunnels that pop up in their chambers!


  1. When I came and visited in August, there was a sign at the Naked Mole Rat exhibit saying that there would be a live feed of the exhibit up on the website in the near future. Did that ever end up happening? If so where can I find it?

  2. Hi Sailsix. The short answer is - it hasn't yet but it will. The long answer is, the camera is in place but we have been building server capacity and working on formatting the images, so this project has become more lengthy than any of us expected.

    I hope you are checking back on this blog, because I assure you we will roll out the story here first. We don't want to keep our mole-rat fans in suspense.