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Helen: Female, born September 23, 1995 at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Paris: Male, born September 23, 1995 at the Philadelphia Zoo.
In order to keep the mole-rats busy, their keepers add bedding to the tunnels which the hard working rodents spend time moving to their nest chambers.
Small Mammal House
The Damaraland mole-rat has thick, velvety fur that comes in a wide range of colors including whitish, yellow, clay, fawn, gray, brown, reddish-brown, cinnamon, buff and blackish. There is usually, although not always, a white marking on the head. Eyes and external ears are small, but the cornea of the eye is sensitive to air currents which helps them orient in the total darkness of their tunnels. Their large incisors are always exposed, even when their mouth is closed, which helps them tunnel through hard earth without swallowing dirt.
Damaraland mole-rats can live to 15 years in captivity. Their lifespan in the wild is unknown due to the difficulty in studying them in their subterranian habitat.
One of only two eusocial (truly social) species of mammals, Darmaraland mole-rats (DMR) appear to have developed this system independently from naked mole-rats (NMR). Much like ants, termites, and some bees and wasps, these mole-rats live in large colonies, presided over by a queen and her mate who do all of the breeding while the rest of the colony - all members of the same family - work together to raise young, find food, and maintain tunnels. Although most of this work is done cooperatively, the larger and more dominant individuals aggressively harass the workers into doing a larger percentage of the work by biting at them or pulling their tails. The colony recognizes its members by scent, and intruders are not tolerated. When an unfamiliar DMR is detected, the main defence of the colony is carried out by the dominant, breeding individuals. This is very different from what would occur in a NMR colony where the subordinates would form the first line of defence. In fact the subordinate individuals in the DMR colony show very little interest in an intruder.
Agoutis are monogamous and live in pairs or small groups consisting of an adult pair and their recent offspring. The adults hold and defend a territory, although they will shift their ranges based on the availability of food. Agoutis have 1-3 offspring after a 104-120 day gestation. The young are precocial (fully furred with eyes open) and can run within an hour of birth. The adults spend a long period of time raising their offspring, who may stay with them for over 20 weeks.
3.03 to 7.12 oz (86 to 202 g)
3.94 to 11.81 in (100 to 300 mm)
Damaraland mole-rats are primarily herbivorous – in the wild they feed for the most part on roots, bulbs and tubers although they will occasionally consume invertebrates. At the Zoo the mole-rats receive a base diet of a commercial rodent biscuit. The enrichment portion of the diet includes a variety of roots and tubers chosen by the keepers
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