The Longest-Lived Rodent Species Is The?
Answer: Naked Mole-Rat
Rodents typically have very short lifespans, with common rodents like mice and rats living mere years and particularly long-lived squirrel species living around a decade (in the wild). Then there’s the naked mole-rat.
Naked mole-rats have long been of interest to researchers because of their longevity. The oldest known mole-rat lived to be 31 years old, and their lifespan could potentially be even longer. Extensive study of both the mole-rat’s DNA and genome sequence have not only offered insight into their longevity—like the role that reduced oxidation in cellular processes plays in their long lives—but it also offered significant support for the DNA damage theory of aging.
The DNA damage theory posits that what ultimately does most living things in, death by “old age”, is a failure of DNA to properly repair itself, leading to malfunctions and even mutations (cancerous cells). Naked mole-rats have excellent DNA repair, and in addition to living long lives, they are also extremely resistant to developing cancer. Continued research into their biology could yield breakthroughs in cancer and anti-aging research.
Image courtesy of Jedimentat44.