In many eusocial species, all the non-breeding members are the same sex. Honeybees are a good example, with only female workers.

Are naked mole rats that do not breed also all either male or female, or are they mixed?


1 Answer 1


Naked mole rat colonies contain individuals of both sexes, with one breeding female and one to three breeding males, and the rest non-breeding individuals of both sexes.

The other individuals in the colony have an additional caste system that seems to depend on size but not sex (i.e., there does not seem to be a hierarchical relationship between non-breeding males and females).

Non-breeding females, but not males, have suppressed reproductive tracts. In the absence of a queen, some non-breeding females' reproductive systems will begin to activate, until one becomes dominant and the others return to being non-breeders.


Clarke, F. M., & Faulkes, C. G. (1997). Dominance and queen succession in captive colonies of the eusocial naked mole–rat, Heterocephalus glaber. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 264(1384), 993-1000.

Jarvis, J. U. (1981). Eusociality in a mammal: cooperative breeding in naked mole-rat colonies. Science, 212(4494), 571-573.


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