Thursday, March 21, 2013

Naked Mole Rat Cam

We are thrilled to add a live camera to our naked mole rat colony on the web. We know that anyone who sees them for the first time will fall in love with this fascinating species. Some of us have been fans of the mole rat colony for years. To those of you who have seen them on visits, read about them, or studied them, you may be wondering what the camera will add to your appreciation?

Who’s top of the heap? If the chamber is full of animals, you may notice one or two sitting, even pushing their way to the top. The colony uses placement in the pile as a way to define status. The “top” animal in the pile is very likely to be highly ranked socially. When the queen is in the pile, she makes her way to the top. Being at the bottom of the heap can mean either an animal is of low rank, or is regulating its temperature. If the colony is cold, one animal may heat itself in a warm area then run into the pile and burrow down into it. Their warmth will radiate out and heat everyone.

Where is everyone? We wish we could anticipate the one chamber that always attracts the animals. We can’t. So sometimes the chamber will be empty.

What did I just see there? If you observe the mole rats doing something and you aren’t sure what’s going on, try to describe it for us. Mole rats have many forms of locomotion. They walk backward, role, somersault, walk over each other, and more. We would love to hear what they are doing when you look in on them. Please give us your observations in the comments section below.

Will I start recognizing them? The mole rats are tattooed Some of the tattoos are clearer than others. Some mole rats also have distinct markings. Two have facial scars. One has no incisors. Two are long and big. A couple are much heavier than average. If you notice anything unique, let us know. The camera gives us a different visual perspective than the naked eye.

Whatever your observations with our colony are, we hope that the camera can add a new dimension of interaction with these captivating animals.  Enjoy seeing them at Pacific Science Center and from the comfort of your own home!

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