Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Dragon Sensory Hours: The dragons will be asleep from 2 to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Damara Mole Rat

Fukomys damarensis

The Damara mole rat – also called the Damaraland mole rat -- is a social species of subterranean rodent that lives in underground colonies with a single breeding pair. They dig tunnels with their forefeet and large lower incisors which can move independently. This species has diminished eyesight, so they rely heavily on whiskers along their body to detect their surroundings.

Range & Habitat

Damara Mole rats are found in Central and South Africa, particularly in Botswana; Namibia; South Africa; Zambia; Zimbabwe. They live in subterranean areas of scrublands and grassland habitats.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

IUCN Red list found the population to be stable when last assessed in 2016.
This species occurs in many protected areas throughout their range, including Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Molopo Nature Reserve in South Africa.


In the wild: Roots, bulbs, tubers, leaves and occasional invertebrates

At the Zoo: a variety of vegetables and plant matter

Life Span

In the wild: 5-6 yrs
In human care: 15 years +

Fun Facts about the Damara Mole Rat

·        Like naked mole rats, Damara mole rats exhibit co-operative breeding, where some individuals forgo reproduction to help others breed. Each member in the colony has a job, like gathering food, digging tunnels, defending the burrow, or caring for young. This advanced type of social organization, called eusocial, is most common among insects like honeybees and ants.

·        Scientists believe the mole rats' eusocial behavior is due to the challenges of living underground, where there is little food or water. If the reproductive female dies, the colony will disperse.

·        Communication can be particularly aggressive within the colony. This species exhibits distinct vocalizations to assert dominance. Larger individuals may even use tail-biting as to encourage work production from more subordinate individuals.


Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. (Ed). (2021) Damaraland Mole Rat. Retrieved November 23, 2021 from

International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. (2016) Damaraland Mole Rat. Retrieved November 23, 2021 from

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (Ed). (2021). Naked Mole Rat. Retrieved November 23, 2021 from

Niabi Zoo (Ed). (2018-2021). Damaraland Mole Rat. Retrieved November 23, 2021.from


Updated June 13, 2023
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