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With their large incisors and nearly hairless bodies, naked mole-rats lack panda adorableness or even mouse-like whimsy. But these little mammals possess unique traits that make them more than worthy of a second look.
The animals live in eusocial colonies—think ants and bees—and only the queen mole-rat may breed. The rest are soldiers or workers who tirelessly dig the tunnels. Mole-rat litters are the largest among mammals, and they can live to be 30—longer than any other rodents. Moreover, studies show these creatures appear to be resistant to cancer.
The first surviving litter of pups since 1996 was born soon after a new naked mole-rat exhibit opened at the National Zoo’s Small Mammal House last year, and the colony welcomed another litter of eight pups in early March. The exhibit showcases the animals’ natural adaptations and intricate tunneling system as it provides a behind-the-scenes look at how keepers care for these amazing animals.
Join Kenton Kerns, assistant curator of the National Zoo’s Small Mammal House, as he describes the process of building a new exhibit while the mole-rats were busy building their new colony.
Participants receive a naked mole-rat plush toy to take home!
National Zoo Theatre (inside Visitor Center)
3001 Connecticut Ave NW
Metro: Cleveland Park or Woodley Park/Zoo