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March 23, 2011

Fun Facts about Naked Mole Rats! NMRs in the news!

Wild and Weird: Naked Mole Rats Handsome? No. Cancer-free? Yes.

Naked mole rats win no beauty contests. With their pale, pruny pelts, buckteeth and tiny, beady eyes, they’re cute to few and cuddly to none but each other. They have strange biology, too -- feeling little pain in their skin and dwelling in smelly, underground colonies like insects. Plus, young naked mole rats eat nothing but the feces of adults. The most intriguing thing about the mole rats, though, may be longevity: “Old Man,” the most ancient naked mole rat known to humankind, died last November at the ripe old age of 32. Naked mole rats routinely live almost 10 times longer than their above-ground cousins.

One reason naked mole rats enjoy such long lives? They've never been known to get cancer -- in contrast with mice, 70 percent of whom perish from the disease at just a few years of age. In fact, naked mole rats may prove as valuable as mice in finding a cure for cancer. That beats winning a beauty contest any day.

Read more on this intriguing species in The Washington Post.

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