Naked mole rats look pretty weird. Naked mole rats have tiny eyes, tiny ears and huge front teeth. They are famous for being almost totally bald. Without fur, naked mole rats look pink and wrinkled. Most rodents do have fur on their bodies. Some rodents, like certain hamsters, have long, smooth fur.
Yes, these odd little creatures with pink, wrinkly skin dig and live in underground burrows the way moles do. Yes, they have skinny, rat-like tails. Why are they "naked"? Native to the desert regions of East Africa, which can be pretty warm during the day, naked mole-rats live underground. If it does get cold at night, the little mammals just huddle together in a mole-rat pile and use each other's body heat to keep warm. And since they spend their lives underground, they don't need hair for sun protection. It's hard to see, but naked mole-rats do have about fine hairs on their body that act like whiskers to help them feel what's around them.
Have you ever seen a picture of a mother dog caring for an unusual baby, like a kitten? This sort of animal adoption story is an example of a phenomenon known as alloparenting : care provided to offspring that are not genetically related. Each individual naked mole-rat has a specific job. Like in a honeybee hive, a naked mole-rat colony has one queen, whose job it is to reproduce. There are just a few sexually reproductive males, who mate with the queen.
In the Aug. Dealing with poop is an unavoidable hazard of raising children, regardless of species. But for naked mole-rats, that wisdom is especially salient. During pregnancy, the scat of a naked mole-rat queen — the only female in the colony that reproduces, giving birth to a few dozen pups each year — contains high levels of the sex hormone estradiol. Researchers gave poop pellets from nonpregnant queens to subordinates for nine days.