Are mole rats actually rats?

Answered by Cody Janus

Despite their names, naked mole rats are not actually rats. They belong to a family called Heterocephalidae, which is separate from the family that rats belong to. In fact, naked mole rats are more closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs.

Naked mole rats have unique physical characteristics that set them apart from both moles and rats. While they may appear hairless, they actually do have some small and sparse hairs on their bodies. However, these hairs are not easily visible and their skin is wrinkled, giving them the appearance of being hairless. Their bodies are elongated and cylindrical, with small eyes and ears.

Their lifestyle also differs from that of typical rats. Naked mole rats are social animals that live in large colonies underground. They have a well-defined social structure, with a queen who is the only reproductive female, and a caste system where different individuals have specific roles within the colony.

Another interesting fact about naked mole rats is that they are adapted to live in low-oxygen environments. They are one of the few mammal species known to be eusocial, meaning they live in large cooperative groups with reproductive division of labor. This is similar to the social structure of ants and bees.

In terms of their behavior, naked mole rats display some unique characteristics. They are highly resistant to cancer and can live exceptionally long lives for their size. They also have a high tolerance for pain and are known for their ability to withstand low levels of oxygen for extended periods of time.

While naked mole rats may have “rat” in their name, they are not actually rats. They are a distinct species belonging to the family Heterocephalidae and have their own unique characteristics and behaviors.