Naked Mole Rats have captured my attention since about five years. And recently I came across an article “Google wants to use naked mole rats to conquer death – They’re ugly as sin, but they could help us live longer”.

 

Mice and rats have been a standard animal models for cancer research, mainly due to their short lifespan (four years on average) and high incidence of cancer.

 

But, there is something very special about naked mole rats (East African Rodents). They are indeed a mystery not only among rodents but among mammals in general. Naked Mole Rats have a maximum lifespan exceeding 30 years and most surprisingly, are cancer-resistant. So far, not a single incident of cancer has been detected among them and this makes them a fitting model for finding novel ways to fight cancer.

One of the things scientists studying the naked mole rat, have recently found is that they have one of the most amazing social behavior patterns of any mammal in the animal kingdom.

 

According to Richard D. Alexander, a University of Michigan biologist, ”The social behavior of the naked mole rat is one of the mammal finds of the century”.

And a group of researchers from the University of Cape Town in South Africa have also found that unlike other species of mole rats, which are hairy and larger and live alone or in small family groups above ground, naked mole rats congregate in large underground colonies about a foot beneath the earth’s surface.

In addition to eating and raising their young, the animals spend a good part of their time moving earth and digging tunnels in a cooperative effort involving several animals.

Naked mole rat has been called one of God’s oddest-looking creatures, and because of its unusual way of life it is looked upon with affection by biologists and animal behaviorists.

Naked mole rat colonies are quite peaceful. According to the scientists, naked mole rats are the only mammals with a caste that surrenders its breeding rights without constant friction or fighting.

According to Richard D. Alexander, a University of Michigan biologist who is one of the investigating scientists. ”The whole phenomenon is bizarre, we never suspected that any such kind of social life existed in a mammal.”

 

Could such a wonderful peaceful coexistence and social life hold the secret for their vitality and longevity? Is there a lesson for a homo sapiens, the so called “wise men”?

In Health

Dr. Dawit Mengistu