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Scientists Reveal that Naked Mole Rat Queens Communicate with Her Feces

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Although Naked Mole Rats are a bit of an eyesore (although, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, after all) these rodents are surprisingly fascinating – amongst many, many incredible features, their queen communicates to her colony via her feces!

queen communicates with feces

This nearly hairless species has always been a subject of intrigue for biologists. Recent studies have unveiled even more mind-blowing aspects of their social structure and communication methods.

Let’s take a look at this odd (but effective) way of communicating.

An Overview: Naked Mole Rat Colonies

Naked mole rats live in large underground colonies in the East African desert.

Each colony is a complex society with a single queen, a few breeding males, and numerous workers. These workers, mostly females, play various roles, from foraging for food to defending the colony.

Reigning Rats: The Queen

In the colony, only the queen reproduces, giving birth to dozens of pups each year. While she is the primary breeder, she doesn’t care for her offspring alone.

Instead, it’s other females in the colony assist her, acting as nannies to the young pups. These nannies groom the babies, keep them warm, respond to their cries, and ensure they remain in the nest.

How the Queen Communicates with Her Feces

queen communicates with feces

One of the most eyebrow-raising discoveries is the method the queen uses to communicate with her subjects. Due to the constraints of living underground, the queen has adopted a unique way to pass directives: through her feces.

Worker rats ingest the queen’s feces, which contains hormonal messages, especially when she’s about to give birth. This fecal communication informs the workers of incoming babies, making them more attentive to the pups.

She Also Dictates the Dialect

YouTube video

Other than communication via feces, colonies of these creatures have distinct dialects in their vocalizations, which play a crucial role in distinguishing members of their own group from outsiders. Intriguingly, the dialect of each colony is significantly influenced by its queen.

By analyzing over 36,000 greeting calls from multiple colonies, researchers found that each colony’s dialect is akin to human accents. Furthermore, mole rats responded more frequently to their own dialect compared to others, indicating its importance in intra-colony communication.

When a colony’s leadership changes, the dialect undergoes shifts, emphasizing the queen’s pivotal role in shaping communication. Very much like humans, these animals seem to adopt the “queen’s English.

Queen Communicates With Feces: Conclusion

The world of naked mole rats is yet another proof of nature’s mind-blowing ability to evolve unique solutions to challenges. The queen’s role in dictating the colony’s dialect and her unconventional communication points to the complexity of these tiny rodents.

As scientists continue to study them, who knows what other secrets these underground dwellers might reveal?

Thank you for reading this story about how Queen Mole Rats communicates via her feces! For more intriguing scientific discoveries of the animal kingdom, take a look at these posts:

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