Round-the-clock radio

DZG keepers make sure all animals are happy in their environment and for our naked mole rats that means having the radio on non-stop!

Behind the scenes of the weird and wonderful East African creatures’ specially-built burrow, the radio is left playing around the clock as the cold-blooded and hairless mammals are incredibly sensitive to noise.

And staff have to keep the network of clear tubes and chambers – which imitates a natural underground habitat – at a constant tropical temperature of 30 degrees Celsius.

Senior Keeper, Jodie Dryden, said: “Mole rats are blind so their hearing is heightened anyway and they respond to the most sensitive sound vibrations. That’s why the viewing glass on the exhibit is extremely thick and we keep the radio on.

“That way any noise we make when caring for them or if there are lots of visitors nearby there is already something going on in the background.”

Daily duties include checking the burrow temperature, cleaning any dirty chambers with water, a 60g serving of root veg and a quick head count to make sure staff see our two females and three males.

Keepers also add undyed tissue to a chamber which the five skilfully and powerfully tear into strips and transport along the tubes to their nest, taking a variety of routes along the way.

But there’s a question of etiquette when crossing paths with the queen mole rat – she always has to walk over the top of any other mole rat as she’s at the top of the tree in the hierarchy!

Naked mole rats are neither moles or rats, but more closely related to porcupines, chinchillas and guinea pigs and have an expected captive lifespan of 30 years.