Week 7 Story: How the Mole Rat Became Naked

Mole Rat and a Snake worked together as servants on a farm. Snake was not allowed inside the farmhouse on account of the unsightly skin that covered her body; it was pale, wrinkly, and hung off her bones at strange angles. She worked in the fields, weaving her way through the stalks of wheat and corn to catch intruding mice, always out of sight of the other animals and visitors of the farm. Mole Rat's coat was made up of a beautiful array of scales, which shone in the sunlight and reflected a vibrant prism of colors. She was thus employed inside the farmhouse, where she helped the farmer's wife in the kitchen. In the heat of the day, when poor Snake lay under the mercy of the sun, Mole Rat could be found chopping onions and humming along to a tune the farmer's wife liked to sing as they cooked together.

Although the farmer's wife was very kind to Mole Rat, the farmer was cruel and never missed an opportunity to jeer at Snake and make fun of her appearance. Snake passed many miserable years lingering in the fields and enduring the harsh words of the farmer. Her only reprieve were the nightly outings she had with Mole Rat, where the two of them would find a soft patch of grass and lie back to gaze at the stars. Over the years they had become intimately acquainted with the constellations, and would greet Orion and Big Dipper together as the world was tucked into bed under the blanket of night.

When the farmer's wife died, the burden of preparing all the daily meals began to fall entirely on Mole Rat, who quickly became overwhelmed. She went to Snake and proposed the idea of running away. Snake, who had been looking for a way out as long as she had been on the farm, quickly agreed, and the two friends set out.

They were small creatures and could not run quickly, but were attuned to seeking out nooks and crannies where they could hide along their runaway journey. In the morning, the farmer realized they were gone and promptly set out to find and catch them.

After days of traveling without stopping for food or water, Snake and Mole Rat could bear the ache in their bellies and the dryness of their mouths no longer, and moved out from a hiding spot in a hollowed tree trunk to go down to the river. They undressed, Snake laying out her skin and Mole Rat her scales. They dove into the river, where they hunted for fish and drank their fill from the cool running stream. But no sooner had they quenched their hunger and thirst than they saw the farmer off in the distance; he had spotted them and was running wildly in their direction!

Snake and Mole Rat scurried out of the river, and in their haste to evade the farmer's wrath they accidentally grabbed the other's clothes. They decided to split up to confuse the farmer, and before realizing their mistake, went bounding off in different directions.

It was not until they had traveled a far distance that both of the friends stopped and decided it was safe to dress. It was then that they realized they had not grabbed the proper clothes. Snake, who now possessed Mole Rat's dazzling outfit, was delighted by her new look. She became known to all the creatures near and far as the most majestic dresser of all the animals. But Mole Rat was miserable wearing the flacid, fleshy skin in place of her stunning coat of scales. The other animals mistook Mole Rat's pale covering for nakedness, and they shamed and avoided her. She became known to all as "Naked Mole Rat."

And that is the story of why mole rats today are naked.

Author's Note:
This story is based off of the story of the cow and the carabao, who like mole rat and snake ran away and accidentally switched clothes. In my experience, naked mole rats are viewed by many as very odd-looking creatures, and I thought it would be fun to write a story explaining the origin of this eclectic appearance.

Naked Mole Rat says hi. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Fansler, Dean. (1921) Why the Cow's Skin is Loose. In Filipino Popular Tales. Web Source


  1. Hi Joni,

    Great story! It's sad the Snake was left outside in the sun and they made no attempt to make the Snake feel better. I felt like Mole Rat should've tried to help the snake in some way since they were friends. I like the amount of detail given when they escaped and the farmer was chasing them. It's too bad that the Mole Rat and Snake didn't try to find each other after they escaped.

  2. Hi Joni!

    What a fun story idea! I really enjoyed the way you gave an explanation for the origin of the naked mole rat's strange looks, and though I haven't read the original story, it seems like a fun take. My one critique would be that, because of the setting and the type of characters, I was confused for about the first three quarters of the story as to whether I was reading about actual animals, or slaves or servants with animal names, or something else altogether. I think just the concept of them being employed by the farmer and helping prepare meals in the kitchen led me to believe they couldn't be real animals until the end, because a farmer having a mole rat help prepare food doesn't really make sense to me. I was able to buy Snake's employment as someone keeping mice away, but I didn't really understand Mole Rat's presence on the farm/in the kitchen.

    Regardless, it was a fun read, and the ending made it worth the confusion!

  3. Hello again, Joni! This was a fun read. Most of the time I can’t really follow animal-centric folk tales, for what reason I don’t know, but I enjoyed yours very much! It was hard picturing a mole rat with scales and a snake without them—I suppose they would look similar to an armadillo. Thanks to this story and a quick Google search, I now know what scaleless snakes look like (which aren’t that different, really). I wonder if the snake and the mole rat ever found each other again? I do like the idea of them being friends. Regardless, I enjoyed reading this story and look forward to reading many more!

  4. Hi Joni!

    I really enjoyed reading this! To echo Natalie, I also normally can't follow animal-centric stories, but I was able to follow this one fairly well! I think the explanation of the "naked" mole rat is a fun way to tell this story. The mole rat's scales definitely confused me the first read through, but I'm honestly not sure how you could revise that to make more sense without giving away the twist too early. Overall, fun little tale and a funny premise!

  5. Hi Joni! I loved your story, "How the Mole Rat Became Naked." Have you seen Kim Possible? I've always had a fondness for naked mole rats after watching that show.

    Your writing style is so creative, and I loved the feeling of comfort you created from the phrase, "...as the world was tucked into bed under the blanket of night."

    "Snake and Mole Rat could bear the ache in their bellies and the dryness of their mouths no longer ..." was a bit confusing, so I would rearrange it to "Snake and Mole Rat could no longer bear the ache..."
    Good job!


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