Naked mole rats, small, hairless mammals are about to get a new home in the National Zoo, which will have built-in electronic equipment to carry out a task that defies the naked eye: to keep these almost identical animals apart.
All animals are about the same size, about three centimeters long, the zoo said Monday and they have the same pinkish skin and large incisors. So it is no easy task to distinguish between these underground beings.
Players in sports teams carry numbers for easy identification and the ID system of the zoo also uses figures. Thanks to electronic chips placed under the skin of the animals, holders equipped with a chip reader can tell one naked mole rat of the others.
Tunnels have been placed in the new molgrave graves of the zoo for use by the animals. At a given moment in these corridors the zoo has installed a chip reader.
When the rats pass the reader, the zoo said, their personal information will appear on a screen outside the new habitat. Awarded to visitors will be the chip number of the animal, the date of birth and the gender.
In theory, zoo visitors could at least get to know the number of favorites and be alert to the appearance of the songs in the course of weeks, months and years.
In the announcement of Monday, the zoo said that the new exhibition will open at the Kleine Zoogdierhuis on 1 September. Zoo visitors will take a look at the lives and activities of naked mole rats.
But the exhibition will also include a new webcam that will lead virtual visitors 24 hours a day to the colony of 17 animals, members of a species who apparently have no need to play outside.
The broadcast starts Friday, the zoo said.