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Underground society

Duration: 06:00

In a naked mole rat colony, the workers are busy in the tunnels digging as a team. They use their teeth to dig and have special lips to stop them getting earth in their mouth. The soldier caste lazes around until they are needed to defend the colony. When a snake enters the burrow, the workers flee and the soldiers pile into the tunnel to block the snake's path. The mole rat's sharp teeth can bite a snake to death so it retreats. The queen is the only breeding female. Her urine, found in the colony's communal latrine, contains a chemical that prevents any other female from developing ovaries.

Available since: Wed 23 Mar 2011

This clip is from

The Trials of Life Friends and Rivals

9/12 David Attenborough examines how recognising friends is vital in the animal kingdom.

First broadcast: 28 Nov 1990

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