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naked mole rat

naked mole rat, name applied to a species ( Heterocephalus glaber ) of small rodents found in E Africa, whose members—the only hairless rodents—live entirely in underground communities of 80 or more individuals with a structure resembling that of social-insect colonies. Colony members are closely related and seem to work for the success of the whole community rather than individual survival. The queen is head of the colony and is the only member to breed. She has approximately ten pups per litter and about four litters per year. The mole rats divide up the specialized chores, such as collecting food, disposing of waste, and digging tunnels. The colonies have extensive tunnel systems and a large central area for nesting. Naked mole rats are classified as Phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia.

See study by P. W. Sherman et al. (1991).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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