Zambian mole-rat

(Cryptomys anselli)


Zambian mole-rat IUCN NEAR THREATENED (NT)


Facts about this animal

The Zambian mole-rat is a rodent of 9-12 cm length and a body-weight of 30-60 g that lives and forages underground, and under natural conditions is rarely, if ever, exposed to light. Its eye is organized as in other rodents and is prominent but minuscule. The animals do not seem to react to light behaviourally or to orient visually.


Zambian mole-rats live in families consisting of a single breeding pair and their non-breeding offspring, who remain with their parents and forage and maintain the burrow system. This eusocial system was first found in the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), but whereas in that species the queen monopolizes breeding through behavioural suppression of her daughters, in Zambian mole-rats, both daughters and sons refrain from mutual mating because of incest avoidance based on continued familiarity with each other. They readily initiate courtship when encountering unfamiliar conspecifics, including their own siblings, however, after separation of 16–18 days.


Zambian mole rats feed on roots, tubers, geophytes, herbs and grasses.

Did you know?
That mole-rats who breed live about twice as long as sexually inactive animals of this species?


Name (Scientific) Cryptomys anselli
Name (English) Zambian mole-rat
Name (French) Rat-taupe
Name (German) Ansell's Graumull
Name (Spanish) Ratas topo de Zambia
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Gerhard Schulz



Range Small distribution range, centred around the city of Lusaka
Habitat Savannah, lives and forages underground
Wild population Unknown, but decreasing (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 16 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo

Zambian mole-rat


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 81 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Gerhard Schulz

Why do zoos keep this animal

Zambian mole rats are of educational interest because of their extreme adaptation to a subterranean lifestyle and their interesting social system. A lot of research has been and is being done on Zambian mole rats kept under ex situ conditions.