Size wise, there's not much difference between a naked mole rat and a house mouse. A naked mole rat is typically 3 to 4 inches in length and weighs around 35 grams. A queen, meanwhile, can be as heavy as 80 grams.
|A queen. You can actually see the babies in her belly. Image: animalpicturesarchive.com|
And they are apparently immune to cancer. Professor Rochelle Buffenstein from the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies have been trying for years to infect the penis-like rodent with cancerous cells, toxins, pollutants, and even heavy metals, but the rodents in her lab were unimpressed.
Having bizarre sperm is another trait of the naked mole rat. They are smaller than those of other mammals, and are produced in lower amounts. Most of the sperms have abnormally-shaped head; squashed, shrunken, two heads, conical heads. Just behind the head, there are only seven mitochondria rings--the fuel that powers the sperms' frenzied movement. Human sperms have 15 rings, while some rodents' sperms can have up to 300 rings. So it's not surprising that only between 1 to 15 percent of the sperms can swim, and out of those, only 1 percent that can actually swim quickly.
And the most ironic trait of all: the rat is actually cold-blooded. Well I thought all mammals were warm-blooded. The rats do not possess stable body temperature like other mammals, and so they have to regulate their temperature by basking in chambers close to the surface or retreat to cooler chambers when it gets too hot.
In 2008, scientists found out that these incredibles were missing the body chemical, Substance P, a neurotransmitter released by pain fibers that send signals to the central nervous system in mammals after making contact with things that cause long-lasting, achy pain, like chili peppers. This means that they can endure capsaicin better than any human who has ever lived. Better still, they can't feel pain from the injection of acid. Researchers found out two mutations in their sodium channel (which triggers a chain reaction in neurons that results in the release of neurotransmitters and the sensation of pain in the brain) that renders them pain-free.
Despite its ugly look, I hope this bucktoothed creature will continue to reveal more of its incredible trait. It's not very often you see a superhero that feasts on his own feces really.