The naked mole rat's guide to eternal life

Immune to pain, free from cancer and living in a highly developed society with a queen - is there nothing naked mole rats can't do?

27th June 2017
The naked mole rat's guide to eternal life © Lindsey Leigh

Naked mole rats might not be the image of good looks, yet these wrinkly rodents might just hold the secret to long and healthy lives. In issue 309 of BBC Focus magazine, Kat Arney strips bare the secrets of these nude dudes and discovers how we are using them to develop new and life-saving medicines. Make sure you don't miss an issue of BBC Focus by subscribing here, but first here are a few incredible naked mole rat facts.

The naked mole rat's guide to eternal life © Lindsey Leigh
© Lindsey Leigh

Naked mole rats don't feel pain like other rodents. Their pain receptors are less sensitive, which means they can put up with hotter, harsher conditions

The naked mole rat's guide to eternal life © Lindsey Leigh
© Lindsey Leigh

Unlike their rodent cousins, naked mole rats almost never succumb to cancer as they age. These wrinkly creatures can survive into their thirties, a span five times longer than expected for a mammal of their size.

The naked mole rat's guide to eternal life © Lindsey Leigh
© Lindsey Leigh

Naked mole rats' cooperative social behaviour may contribute to their longevity. There is one breeding female called the queen, and the rest of the mole rats chip in to protect her and the colony from harm.

The naked mole rat's guide to eternal life © Lindsey Leigh
© Lindsey Leigh

Naked mole rat babies are born with unusually well-developed brains, more like newborn primates than rodents. Intriguingly, the make-up of their nerve cells is closer to humans than mice. 

 


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