Naked Mole Rat Queen Gives Birth To Second Litter, Months After Being Crowned

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Smithsonian National Zoo

The Smithsonian National Zoo's naked mole rat colony is welcoming seven new pups after their queen gave birth to her second litter, the zoo announced on Sunday.

Naked mole rats are eusocial mammals, meaning they spend their lives in large colonies with a single breeding female — their queen. On Dec. 17, the colony finally chose their queen after a long and bloody fight, when the queen gave birth to her first litter of four jelly bean-sized pups

Since the birth of her first litter, the zoo wrote on their site on March 6 that it was expecting more pups and was expecting a litter as early as mid-March. The naked mole rat queen is capable of getting pregnant again just two weeks after last giving birth. 

And with every litter the queen delivers, it's likely that she'll give birth to more pups because her spine becomes longer, the zoo writes. This allows her to carry more pups without becoming wider, which helps her travel through the colony's narrow tunnels.  

It's been 32 years since naked mole rats were born at the zoo and survived, Kenton Kerns, assistant curator of the Small Mammal House, told NBC Washington previously

As for the queen's first litter, the zoo writes they are "healthy and thriving" and quickly growing to adult size. These pups will have their first veterinary exam and receive their identification chips when they're about six-months-old.

If you want to visit the new pups and the colony, the Small Mammal House is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. But if you can't wait to see them, you can watch the animals 24/7 on the Naked Mole Rat Cam

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