Date of Award

Spring 4-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Sonia Ragir

Second Advisor

Dr. Diana Reiss

Academic Program Adviser

Dr. Diana Reiss


Naked Mole Rats (NMR) and their close relative the Damaraland Mole Rat are the only eusocial mammals. This study investigated whether NMR juveniles engage in play-like behavior within a crèche chamber in a laboratory colony and whether the frequent interruption of juvenile social interactions by adults suppress social play. One colony at the College of Staten Island, CUNY, was observed over the course of six months. An ethogram based on the NMR literature was used to code juvenile behavior in the crèche chamber one to two times a week for a total of thirty video sessions ~ 25-40 minutes in duration. The observations were separated into ten sessions divided into early, middle and late periods for the analysis of change over time. Juveniles exhibited bunching, standing in the same area as another juvenile, with and without play which tended to increase across the three periods when adults were absent, and both bunching and play decreased when adults were present. The results did not support the hypothesis that adult interruptions intentionally targeted or suppressed play. Instead, juveniles became increasingly less active in the presence of adults. Play in a mammal that lacks the functional repertories that usually benefit from play, (strengthening social bonds between mother-infant and age-mates and practice for subsequent mating) —support the claim that play in this group appeared to be motivated by basic drives to self-stimulate and satisfy fundamental appetites.



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