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Naked Mole-Rats



Naked Mole-Rats
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.6

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    caste, collectivism, eusocial, harem, individualism, intrusion, mole, mole-rat, mole-rats, maintain, vigorous, society, hard-packed, hence, despite, naked


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Naked Mole-Rats   

1     Naked mole-rats are animals that cause massive confusion! Unlike what their name suggests, naked mole-rats are not entirely naked. They have sensory whiskers around their heads and tails. They also have fine, pale hair between their toes. Despite their name, naked mole-rats are more closely related to porcupines and chinchillas than to moles or rats. No matter who naked mole-rats' close relatives are, all these animals are rodents.
 
2     Naked mole-rats live in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya in eastern Africa. They feed on roots, tubers, and other underground plant parts. They measure about 3 inches long and weigh less than 3 ounces. They do not have an insulating layer of fat under their skin. This gives their pinkish or yellowish skin a wrinkly appearance. It also causes their body temperature to change with the temperature of their environment. Why are they naked? Naked mole-rats spend almost their entire life underground where the temperature remains relatively constant at about 82-89 degrees Fahrenheit. They bask in tunnels near the surface when feeling cold and huddle in large groups when sleeping. If they get too warm, they go into the lower levels of their tunnels. Naked mole-rats have broad heads but tiny eyes. They don't have external ears, and they don't have sweat glands.
 
3     As they are burrowing animals, naked mole-rats construct their homes as a web of complex tunnels. Naked mole-rats have such powerful jaws and strong teeth that they can dig through hard-packed soil with ease. To understand how vigorous naked mole-rats' jaws are, just consider this fact -- 25% of naked mole-rats' muscle mass is in their jaw closure! Like all rodents, naked mole-rats have four large incisor teeth that never stop growing. Hence, they don't have to worry about having worn teeth, so they can dig, dig, and dig all the time! Of course, having sturdy jaws and teeth are not the only two features that make naked mole-rats such excellent diggers. To help them avoid eating dirt, naked mole-rats' teeth are in front of their lips. Additionally, they use the hair between their toes as sweepers to whisk away dirt.

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Animal Themes
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Mammals
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