Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Gorilla Falls’ Naked Mole Rats
If you trek the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Research Centre. I’ve been there many times and can tell you that a lot of folks walk in, see a bunch of small animal exhibits and cruise right on out the exit. What? Lizards, snakes, and tortoises not interesting enough? I’ll never understand these people.
If you don’t spend some time looking around the Research Centre, you miss one of the most amazing animals in the whole park! After you enter the building and turn to the left, on the far wall there’s a glass panel behind which tunnels and burrows can be seen. Look closer and you’ll spy the subterranean occupants…Naked mole-rats! Sound disgusting? Yes, they certainly are…both disgusting and absolutely fascinating at the same time.
Before you declare a loathing for rodents, let me lay down some incredible Naked mole-rat facts I dug up (Ha! See what I did there?!?) on the inter-webs (mostly at the National Zoo website). If, after my mini-mole-rat presentation, you still feel like they don’t deserve even a tiny bit of your attention, then I’m sad and sorry you don’t find them as unbelievably cool as I do. Gross and interesting – what’s not to love?
What ARE Naked mole-rats anyway…?
Naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus Glaber) are mammals from eastern Africa who live in colonies led by a queen (like bees). The queen is the only member of the colony who gives birth. The other mole-rats take care of the queen, guard the tunnels, and do general food and housekeeping duties.
Naked mole-rats are herbivores and while they weigh barely mere ounces and are only 3-4 inches long, these unique animals can live more than 30 years. That seems like a crazy long time for such a tiny creature! They have whiskers but no fur, and their bodies are pink and wrinkly (don’t they sound charming?). A quarter of a mole-rat’s muscle mass is in its jaws and those jaws hold some awesome teeth! A Naked mole-rat’s front teeth can operate independently like chopsticks. Their lips close behind their teeth to keep dirt out of their mouths while they’re digging. (Look at that smile!)
Naked mole-rats live out of sight, seemingly mind their own business, eat veggies, and have a very organized society of cooperative togetherness. No, they’re not cute and fluffy, but they are pretty darn amazing just the same.
Have you seen Animal Kingdom’s Naked mole-rats? What did you think about them? If you haven’t stopped by their tunnels for a visit…don’t you want to now?