The naked mole-rat: an insight to these magnificent creatures

The lovable Naked Mole-Rat Rufus and his charming demeanor.

Photo provided by Disney Wiki

The lovable Naked Mole-Rat Rufus and his charming demeanor.

Sandy Hutchins, Staff Writer

The naked mole-rat has been unappreciated for far too long. The amazing mammal has been shrouded in mystery and it is time to end. The naked mole-rat, or the Heterocephalus glaber, is a very unique underground dweller and as a testament to its greatness, in 2013 it was named the “Vertebrate of the Year.” It could offer a wealth of valuable information in the medical field as we continue to investigate its unique capabilities. The naked mole-rat lives underground for almost all its life and because of this it has developed these very special features that have scientists so interested.

To begin the naked mole-rat feels no pain as a result of a lack an essential neurotransmitter called substance P. This is due to their environment, as the buildup of carbon dioxide in their bodies creates a usually painful acid that does not affect the mammal. Not only are they immune to pain which in of itself is amazing, they are also seemingly immune, or at least resistant, to cancer. There has never been a mole-rat found that has had cancer. This is a big deal because further research could lead to cancer preventive medicines and also treatments that could extend our life expectancy, as mole-rats live up to 30 years, which is tenfold that of other rodents’ life expectancy.

Not only are mole-rats scientifically impressive but they are also seen in the media. For one example the naked mole-rat can be seen in the now discontinued TV show Kim Possible. The companion of Ron Stoppable is a loving and charming mole-rat that goes by the name of Rufus. Although Rufus never exhibited any of the aforementioned abilities he was portrayed as an extremely intelligent animal and a crucial part of Team Possible.

Overall, the naked mole-rat is a fascinating mammal that we could learn a lot from, and it has showed its prowess in the media and deserves to be more recognized around the U.S.A. While they may be ugly to look at they are so much more than rodents.