Question Sheet: Lives of a Mole Rat


Before reading:

  1. From its name, what do you think a mole rat might look like?
  2. Why would an animal have big front teeth? What could such teeth be used for?

During reading:

  1. What makes a mole rat different from other mammals?
  2. To what sorts of animals are mole rats related?
  3. To what does the term “eusocial” refer? What types of animals are eusocial?

    See D. Breed).

  4. Among mole rats, how do couch potatoes differ from active workers?
  5. Why might worker mole rats tolerate lazy mole rats?
  6. Why are the brains of mole rats of interest to scientists?
  7. How does a female mole rat change when she becomes a queen?

After reading:

  1. The only known eusocial animal to live in water is the snapping shrimp. Why

    would this animal be interesting to scientists? See

    (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute) and (Science News).

  2. On which senses do people rely most strongly? If you were to draw an

    illustration showing how much human brainpower is devoted to different senses,

    which features would be larger than the others?

  3. Why does it make sense for a female mole rat to grow in length when it

    becomes a queen? See (Cornell


  4. How does the way an animal looks affect how people react to it? Does “being

    cute” help or hurt an animal?

  5. Compare a mole rat to one of its rodent relatives. How is a mole rat similar

    to and different from this other animal?


Find a country in which naked mole rats live. Where is the country located? Describe the environment in which naked mole rats live. Is their population decreasing or increasing? Are naked mole rats threatened or in danger of dying out in this country? See

(Smithsonian National Zoological Park) and (Pulse of the Planet).


  1. Suppose that you are a scientist getting mole rats for your lab. Write a

    letter to another scientist describing the educational benefits of having mole

    rats around to study. See,, and

    (Cornell University).

  2. Have mole rats captured your interest? What other books or articles can you

    find to learn more about mole rats? Write a brief review or summary of one such

    book or article.


Naked mole rats weigh from 25 to 70 grams. Pups weigh about 2 grams at birth. If a colony has 70 members, of which 12 are newly born babies, what is the minimum total weight of the animals in the colony? What is the maximum total weight? What is the percentage difference between the maximum and minimum weights?