Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Diana Reiss

Second Advisor

Daniel McCloskey

Academic Program Adviser

Diana Reiss


Naked Mole-rats (NM-Rs) have been studied in laboratories for decades due to their unique behavior and physiology. However, due to the scope and complexity of the NM-R’s natural subterranean tunneling system, it has been difficult to replicate in the laboratory environment. From a researcher’s perspective, optimal housing is cost- and space-efficient and easily cleaned. On the other hand, optimal animal welfare and husbandry encourages the most biologically relevant enclosure to evoke the fullest range of an animal's behavioral repertoire. While there is an abundance of works centered on the biomedical potential of these odd rodents (Buffenstein et al, 2012; Delaney et al, 2016), there is comparatively little in the way of housing and husbandry refinements; meaning that even basic welfare studies, like those done for the rat in 1906 by the Wistar Institute, are likely non-existent for the NM-R. Even when remarked upon, housing standards for NM-Rs seem to stand in stark contrast to their natural habitats. NM-Rs are most often found in hard solidified lateritic loam soil but have also been known to inhabit pure gypsum (Jarvis and Sherman, 2002). However, they are often kept in wood shavings, corn cob, corn husks, grasses, or paper towel in captivity (Wood and Mendez, 2002; Buffenstein, 2012; Chenlin et al, 2017). Here we hope to offer evidence in support of a new potential substrate for the NMR in the laboratory setting that supports an increased biological relevance but can be implemented quickly and cheaply.



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