Huddling behavior facilitates homeothermy in the naked mole rat Heterocephalus glaber

S. Yahav, R. Buffenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Naked mole rat is a highly social mammal, living in large underground colonies in equatorial Africa. Isolated naked mole rats exhibit unusual thermoregulation and cannot regulate body temperature (Tb). Thermoregulatory parameters, namely Vo2, evaporative water loss (EWL), and Tb, were therefore examined when these animals were housed in groups ranging from 2-8 animals. Oxygen consumption at low ambient temperatures (Ta's), irrespective of the experimental group size, increased with increasing Ta in a poikilothermic manner. Changes in Vo2 with increasing Ta switched to an endothermic pattern at Ta's ranging from 25°C (for groups of eight) to 27°C (for pairs). Huddling behaviour not only saves energy and water, so essential in an arid environment where food is sparsely distributed, but huddling also plays a very important thermoregulatory role in these otherwise nonendothermic mammals. Huddling ensures that, in their natural habitat, naked mole rats are able to control Tb and are indeed homeotherms. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-884
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiological Zoology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology (medical)


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