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Colony size and structure, activity patterns and foraging behaviour of a colony of the social mole-rat Cryptomys damarensis (Bathyergidae)



A complete colony of 20 Cryptomys damarensis was trapped in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa. The colony consisted of 15 males and five females and formed three distinct size classes, two of which were presumed to represent worker (smallest mole-rats) and soldier (largest males) castes. Body masses ranged from 86–197 g, with the dominant male being the largest mole-rat. The activity patterns of five animals in the colony were monitored by radiotelemetry. Activity patterns were not influenced by diel fluctuations in burrow temperature and photoperiod. It was suggested that the chance of hyperthemia influenced activity, such that in order to maximize the daily distance burrowed (foraging efficiency), the mole-rats had to engage in frequent (5.58 times. day-1), but short (c. 60 min) foraging bouts.

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