AnAge entry for Spalax ehrenbergi

Classification (HAGRID: 02830)

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia (Taxon entry)
            Order: Rodentia
                Family: Spalacidae
                    Genus: Spalax
Spalax ehrenbergi
Common name
Palestine mole rat
Nannospalax ehrenbergi, Spalax aegyptiacus, Spalax berytensis, Spalax intermedius, Spalax kirgisorum

Lifespan, ageing, and relevant traits

Maximum longevity
20.2 years (captivity)
Aaron Avivi, pers. comm.
Sample size
Data quality

These animals live on average about 3 years in the wild but can live more than 20 years in captivity. They become sexually mature in their second year of life, though they are difficult to breed in captivity [0675]. Captive animals only show signs of ageing after they are 10 years or older (Eviatar Nevo, pers. comm.). One female of the golani subspecies caught in the wild when about one year-old lived 19.2 years in captivity, making it at least 20.2 years-old when it died accidently. Another wild-caught specimen of the galili subspecies was 17 years-old when it died in captivity (Aaron Avivi, pers. comm.).

These animals have been found to have an exceptional resistance to cancer. This could be related with a lot of factors, including but not exclusively, tolerance to hypoxia conditions, up-regulation of genes associated with DNA repair and changes to the tumour suppressor p53, which induce the transcription of genes associated with DNA repair and cell cycle arrest, but lack in the induction of apoptosis [1357].

A study comparing rodent species has found that maximum longevity is associated with smaller rates of protein turnover. Animals of this long-lived species may have evolved towards reducing the energetic cost of continuous protein turnover, which in turn would lessen the quantity and the damage caused by reactive oxygen species produced in this process [1334].

There is some controversy concerning the taxonomy of this species. Some authors consider it a superspecies with various species. Besides, some authors place this species in the Spalacidae family.

Life history traits (averages)

Female sexual maturity
Male sexual maturity
29 days
Litter size
3 (viviparous)
Litters per year
Inter-litter interval
Weight at birth
Weight at weaning
Adult weight
160 g
Postnatal growth rate
Maximum longevity residual


Typical body temperature
309ºK or 35.6ºC or 96.0ºF
Basal metabolic rate
0.5850 W
Body mass
133.8 g
Metabolic rate per body mass
0.004372 W/g


External Resources

Integrated Taxonomic Information System
ITIS 970560
Animal Diversity Web
ADW account
Encyclopaedia of Life
Search EOL
NCBI Taxonomy
Taxonomy ID 30637
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Ageing Literature
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Google Image search
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