PacSci Perspectives

Toothless Turns Ten Or All I Want For My Birthday Is My Four Front Teeth!

by | Oct 10, 2016

Our Animal Care team didn’t always have individual records on all of our naked mole rats because until they had microchips, they were pretty difficult to tell apart. There are a few naked mole rats, however, which were always easily distinguishable from the group even without microchips. One such naked mole rat was born without her front four teeth, her incisors. Since she is the only naked mole rat in our colony without her digging teeth, she is easy to pick out from the crowd, and her health records are quite thorough. We also couldn’t resist giving her a name: Toothless!

Over time, younger mole rats have all grown larger than Toothless, because she is limited in her food choices. However, we always make sure to provide some soft foods to get this little mole rat the nourishment she needs.

Toothless Turns Ten Photo 02

Toothless, the naked mole rat born without incisors.

Toothless Turns Ten Photo 02 Right

Normal naked mole rat.

Recently, our Animal Care team was perusing records and realized that Toothless’ tenth birthday was coming up. For that day, we decided to make a cake out of her favorite soft foods to honor her!

Toothless Turns Ten Photo 03

On October 9, our Volunteer Bridget helped Toothless and her family celebrate her birthday. We celebrated her special day by making her a “cake” out of ground up rat food, rice flour, water, and sweet potato. On top of her cake we placed ten “candles” made out of rutabaga with a touch of food coloring. We wanted to jazz up her cake a little, so we zested some veggies and used them as decoration on the sides of the cake. When we placed the “cake” in the chamber, the whole naked mole rat colony helped celebrate.

Toothless Turns Ten Photo 04

Doesn’t Toothless look like she’s blowing out the “candles”? And yes, the party hat is a photo-manipulation.