Behavior

Mole-rats dig by loosening the soil with strongly developed forefeet (Bathyergus) or by biting the soil with their incisors (the other genera). The loosened soil is pushed under their bodies with their forefeet and then collected and kicked behind them with their hind feet. When a pile of soil has accumulated, they reverse with it up a side-branch and use their hind feet to push it onto the surface. After a mound has been completed, the side branch to the surface is sealed. Naked mole-rats dig cooperatively—one animal works at the earth-face, a chain of animals transports the soil, and another animal kicks the soil out of a hole. The solitary species aggressively defend their burrow system against conspecifics and advertise their presence to their neighbors by drumming on the burrow floor with their hind feet. During the breeding season, different drumming patterns of male and female Georychus advertise their presence to potential mates. The social species are strongly xenophobic towards foreign animals, and naked mole-rats have a unique colony odor that enables them to differentiate between their own and foreign colony members.

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