, Volume 100, Issue 11, pp 1023–1030 | Cite as

Seasonal changes in burrow geometry of the common mole rat (Rodentia: Bathyergidae)

  • H. G. Thomas
  • M. Scantlebury
  • D. Swanepoel
  • P. W. Bateman
  • N. C. Bennett
Original Paper


Sociality in mole rats has been suggested to have evolved as a response to the widely dispersed food resources and the limited burrowing opportunities that result from sporadic rainfall events. In the most arid regions, individual foraging efficiency is reduced, and energetic constraints increase. In this study, we investigate seasonal differences in burrow architecture of the social Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus in a mesic region. We describe burrow geometry in response to seasonal weather conditions for two seasons (wet and dry). Interactions occurred between seasons and colony size for the size of the burrow systems, but not the shape of the burrow systems. The fractal dimension values of the burrow systems did not differ between seasons. Thus, the burrow complexity was dependent upon the number of mole rats present in the social group.


Burrow systems Seasonality Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus Fractal dimension 



We would like to thank the Duckitt family of Waylands Farm for allowing field work to be carried out on their land. Thanks go out to our small excavation team, Liz Archer and Josh Sarli who provided valuable assistance in the field. This research was supported by the University of Pretoria, by the SARChI Chair of Mammal Behavioural Ecology and Physiology and by the National Research Foundation, South Africa to NCB.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. G. Thomas
    • 1
  • M. Scantlebury
    • 1
    • 3
  • D. Swanepoel
    • 1
  • P. W. Bateman
    • 2
    • 4
  • N. C. Bennett
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Environment and AgricultureCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  4. 4.Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaHatfieldSouth Africa

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