Environment Geek Lifestyle Science

We know how naked mole rats live without oxygen

Naked mole rats are already weird as hell. Although you might’ve grown up with them on the hit Disney show, Kim Possible, they really don’t look like Rufus did in real life.

If you think they look like this, you’re sorely mistaken. Source.

In reality, these guys are weird looking. Like, really weird looking. Trying to find a feature image for this article made me feel sick because there’s something so odd about seeing an animal with such huge teeth and no fur or feathers covering its skin.

Anyway, despite looking like a thumb with teeth, these little guys are pretty cool. A study has found they can survive without oxygen. They turn into plants, essentially, and can survive for 15 minutes without ANY oxygen at all.

We as humans can’t do that. Mice that were put in the same position as the naked mole rats died within 20 seconds of oxygen deprivation.

How insane is that!? Not only can they live without oxygen for 15 minutes, they can also survive for five hours in oxygen levels that are so low humans would die within minutes.

Here, have some mole rats eating food in a tunnel. Source.

How do they survive 15 minutes without any oxygen at all? Well, scientists found out they just casually switch their metabolism to have its brain cells burn fructose for energy instead of glucose.

The reason they survive is because fructose can be turned into energy without the presence of oxygen. Just a casual switch of metabolism and they can go somewhere WITHOUT oxygen, as long as it’s within the next 15 minutes.

Naturally, the scientists who figured it out are stoked. Lead researcher, Thomas Park, from the University of Illinois has said:

“This is just the latest remarkable discovery about the naked mole-rat”.

Okay, so he doesn’t sound too excited, but he has studied them as an animal for about 18 years, so he’d be pretty excited about this.

Nature is weird, man.