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Naked Mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Population estimates

  • No systematic studies
  • Considered common (Maree and Faulkes 2016)
  • Population trend: stable (Maree and Faulkes 2016)

Population structure

  • Low genetic diversity in local populations (Faulkes, Abbott, and Mellor 1990; Honeycutt et al. 1991; Faulkes, Abbott, et al. 1997; Braude 2000)
    • Substantial divergence among geographically separated colonies
  • Differences in genetics and physical traits known (Patterson 2016)
    • No subspecies or species-level distinctions yet made; difficult to collect samples due to political strife in naked mole-rat’s distribution
  • Influences on genetic variation within a population
    • Inbreeding (Honeycutt et al. 1991)
    • Random mating (Honeycutt et al. 1991)
    • New (founder) populations formed by a small number of individuals (Ingram et al. 2015)
    • Population bottlenecks (Ingram et al. 2015)

Conservation Status

IUCN

  • Least Concern (2016 assessment) (Maree and Faulkes 2016)
    • Wide distribution
    • Relatively common
    • No major threats
  • Previous assessments (Maree and Faulkes 2016)
    • 2004, 2008: Least Concern
    • 1996: Lower Risk/least concern

CITES

  • Not listed (as of Sep 2019) (UNEP 2019)

Threats to Survival

No immediate threats

(Patterson 2016)

  • No conflict with farmers or ranchers (Patterson 2016)
  • Not traded (Patterson 2016)
  • Some authors state “no economic value” (e.g., Patterson 2016)—but see discussion on bioprospecting and biodiversity conservation (e.g., Mulatu 2018)
  • Also see "Relationship with humans"

Possible concerns

  • Limited ability to adapt to changing land uses by humans and climate change (Patterson 2016)
  • Possibility of extirpation of genetically distinct subpopulations (Jarvis and Sherman 2002; Maree and Faulkes 2016)
    • Contributing factors: inbreeding, infrequent dispersal, and patchy distribution

Management Actions

Habitat areas

  • Occur in several protected areas/national parks in Africa (Maree and Faulkes 2016)

No Range-wide Threats

Naked mole-rat, front view

Because their habitat is not suitable for agriculture or subject to urban development, naked mole-rats face no major threats in the wild.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

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