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African Mole-Rats: Bathyergidae

Behavior And Reproduction

African mole-rats are considered by experts to show the widest range in social structure of all mammals. They are solitary rodents, and spend much of their time underground. Almost all species dig by biting the soil with their large incisor teeth or in one genus (JEE-nus), a group of animals with similar characteristics, by loosening soil with strongly developed forefeet. Muscular lips with strong hairs keep soil out of the mouth. The loosened soil is pushed under their bodies with their forefeet and then collected and kicked behind them with their hind feet until it is kicked out of the surface opening.

Courtship and mating activities are short encounters between a male and female. Pups at about two months of age begin to make their own burrows. Colonies of social African mole-rats have divisions of labor for reproductive activities. A single female, the queen, and a few chosen males do the mating. Remaining members, who are related to the breeders, are helpers. They remain members of the colony unless environmental conditions allow them to go out on their own or if a breeder dies. If the breeding female dies, some of the oldest females in the colony become sexually active and often fight for the highest position of breeding female. The gestation period, the amount of time the offspring is in the womb, is forty-four to 100 days. Litter, a group of young animals born at the same time from the same mother, size is from less than four up to twenty-eight, depending on the species.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsAfrican Mole-Rats: Bathyergidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Damaraland Mole-rat (cryptomys Damarensis): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, AFRICAN MOLE-RATS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS