Why Naked Mole Rats? 

Monday, August 27, 2007

For about a year now, numbers of visitors to this blog have jumped to an unbelievable number.

I went from around 10 daily visitors in early 2004 when I first added a site visit tracker thingie, to about 30 when I was blogging more frequently. Of that 30, almost 30 were readers as opposed to people googling hamster menstruation or slipper spanking (look me up, I am an authority of sorts in those fields).

Oddly enough, now that I only update once a week, my numbers have shot up to almost 400 visitors a day. Out of those 400 visitors, only about ten a day seem to be people actually looking to read this blog, meaning my readership is back to 2004 levels. The other 390 site visits are almost all from image links (like this). I sometimes just link to photos if I don't bother to write to ask for permission to use photos directly or if I never get an affirmative response from the image's copyright holder. Who knows why my links brings in so many visitors to my blog?

Mostly I ignore these visits. But sometimes a ridiculous amount of people come to just one post of mine. These days its the naked mole rat post. Last November I wrote about the British TV show QI and, in particular, about my discovery of the naked mole rat, a grotesquely fascinating looker of an animal. I linked to this picture.

A year ago it was hundreds, if not thousands of visitors coming to read the Resurrection post. I wrote that one after visiting Arizona in 2004 and, by writing it, I alienated one American reader who objected to my calling Americans "militaristic." I was then de-linked by this individual. Then no one noticed that post for two years. Suddenly, people from all over the US were entering my site through that one post, making me suspect someone emailed the link to a bunch of their friends. Is it the "militaristic" comment? Is it that the Marines are deciding whether or not to take me up on my request to being recruited? Is it the Arizona tourism board finally deciding to use my idea of Krazy Kat marketing to promote their state?

Now it's visitors from all over the US, Kuwait, Italy, Dubai, Britain, France, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, Finland, Indonesia, Korea, Qatar and other countries coming to see pictures of naked mole rats. I'd love to know why that particular post.

In a rather stereotypical deduction, I am guessing that by the number of Islamic countries represented, it must be curious sheltered girls. The European countries also have sizeable Islamic immigrant populations, with yet more curious sheltered girls. These curious girls want to know what penises look like but they do not have access to art history textbooks and they cannot ask their brother's friends to display their goods. Their parents or their government monitors their online visits.

Then I come in. I write: "The naked mole rat is the only animal that resembles human male genitalia." Then I link to a picture of the penis-resembling naked mole rat. VoilĂ . Girls know what to expect their first time and I am a feminist hero. Well, hopefully the girls are not traumatized by the fangs. Or, if they are, hopefully they will be inspired by their nightmares to write some great horror novels that publishers will have the sense to translate into English.

So, what is it about naked mole rats? Seriously, I want in on the joke. Why so many visitors for this picture?


The popular Disney kids show, Kim Possible, features a naked mole rat. Perhaps people google to see if they actually exist?
It's a Disney thing? I would have never thought of that. I am rather disappointed.

On the other hand, I am fulfilling a lifelong mission to "have a corruptive influence on youth." Bwa ha ha.

(Maybe the fanged look of the naked mole rat will encourage a decrease in teen pregnancies?)
There's a few other pop-culture mentions that have popularized the naked mole rat:

A now-obscure, but once-famous, Mac computer rumor-monger used to use Naked Mole Rat as his nom de plume.

One of the four subjects of Errol Morris' documentary Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control is a naked mole rat researcher (the film is worth seeing) so your hits may be following local airings on TV, or some other reference to it.

For all the reasons you might expect, naked mole rats have a strong memetic hold on anyone who hears of them. It's hard not to look them up once you've discovered they exist. They are a sort of minor touchstone among the right kind of nerd, and I'd bet that a surprisingly high proportion of computing science nerds know about them.
You too? I get that search string. A friend said rat was slang for something in porn but wouldn't tell me what.
Thanks for all the info, Ryan! I had no idea naked mole rats had so much influence in nerd society. I just remember laughing at them in my Funk and Wagnalls Wildlife Encyclopedia.

Thanks for the additional info, Pearl! Ryan, do you know about this porno naked mole rat?

I just realized that Blogger won't let users without Blogger accounts leave comments with the link to their website. That sucks. Time to get new commenting.
I was watching TV tonight and happened upon a dancing pink cartoon character which I correctly guessed to be a naked mole rat. It was Rufus of Kim Possible fame! How did I know it was a NMR? I adore them, they are one of my favorite animals at the zoo, I even have a stuffed NMR toy. They're actually much cuter in person. I love that they are small but powerful and can chew through a cinder block wall in about 15 minutes.
Those naked mole rats move faster than I thought! Thanks for the link, L2 - I wouldn't want to face zombie naked mole rats when I am in my siege-proof anti-zombie citadel!

Btw, I had no idea you were such a naked mole rat fan. This will make it easier when I do my Christmas shopping for you.
Maybe you should write about geoducks next.
Rurality: good old geoducks! Yes, I should do some research.
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