July 23, 2004
I need a rubber naked mole rat
I am searching for a rubber naked mole rat just like the one above. You'd think it wouldn't be so hard to find one, but you'd be dead wrong.
This started way back in March with an innocuous blog post. I happen to have a rubber naked mole rat of my own. I like it a lot, so I posted a picture of it.
No one really noticed or cared until last week, when a woman left me this comment:
Oh Help! This is going to be strange... I bought a naked mole rat just like yours at the St. Louis Zoo years ago and have used it as a prop in my class room and taken it on trips when I visited other counties. His name WAS Garbanzo, the Naked Mole Rat. Garbanzo was even featured in his own calendar showing his trip to Italy. I spent the past year in Thailand teaching English and Science(just got back two weeks ago). While I was on a trip in the northern jungle of Thailand, I lost Garbanzo through the slats of the bamboo raft. As you are probably aware, this replica of a naked mole rat does not float. Sadly, he was lost. I have already tried an E-bay search and have done a couple of Google searches since returning to the States. Your picture has been my only true lead to finding another NMR on line. Did you get your NMR in Chicago? Do you have any idea where I could get one? I tried the St. Louis Zoo website, but all they had for sale was cookbooks... Thank you for reading this weird message, but I figured if you cared enough to post a picture of a NMR, you might help.
ME at XXX
Damn. She really got me with the "I figured if you cared enough to post a picture of a NMR, you might help" business. I liked her immediately, so I e-mailed her with a promise to help and a suggestion that she check out Errol Morris's "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control," which prominently features naked mole rats.
She wrote back with more information about Garbanzo (he was the last one at the zoo gift shop and had fallen to the floor when she snagged him) and told me she'd already seen the movie. She further endeared me to her by telling me the topiary gardener was her favorite. (That guy happens to be my friend Kelly's grandpa.)
I posted a plea for help in looking for one. Then I wrote several follow-ups:
Read the Original plea.
Read about the promising but dead-end lead.
Read about the first time I quit my search in disgust.
Read about the e-mail that encouraged me to keep trying.
See the tote bag I made to inspire me in my search.
So here's what we know so far:
Plugging the term "rubber naked mole rat" into Google will only lead you back to my main site.
Plugging any combination of the terms "rubber," "naked," "mole," "rat," "toys," "toy," "latex," "plastic," "pvc," and "novelty" into Google will result in many matches about either actual naked mole rats or topics too filthy for even me to touch.
The Miniature Zoo site has a lot of great animal replicas, but no naked mole rats. They are also very kind, as evidenced by this e-mail exchange:
Your site is amazing.
I came across it while looking for a rubber naked mole rat for a friend. Have you ever carried them? Do you have any idea where i might find one?
Thanks for your help,
The Mini Zoo Guy:
Thank you for your most complimentary letter and your
interest in The Miniature Zoo.
I am sorry to report that I know of no source for a
naked mole rat. Although I cannot be of much direct
help, I do send you my best wishes for better luck
in your search.
Toy Joy in Austin doesn't have them, although they have carried them in the past and may again in the future.
Terra Toys in Austin doesn't either. In fact, the guy I talked to didn't really know what I was talking about, repeated my request slowly ("a rubber replica...of a...naked...mole...rat?") and sort of laughed at me, like it's soooo out of the realm of possibility that someone might carry such a thing. Well, clearly at least two places did at some point, so who's laughing now, Terra Toys Dude? After he stopped laughing he asked other members of the staff if they knew anything about it, and I got the distinct feeling he was extending an invitation for them to laugh at me too while I waited patiently on the other end. He was pretty good natured about it, though, so no hard feelings.
K&M toys may be a lead, as their website mentions rubber replicas of animals, but their ordering pages only feature plush dolls, and they haven't written me back yet. I plan on making a follow-up phone call tomorrow.
Archie McPhee is a wash. They're not so goddamn great.
Science Stuff in Austin does not have any either, although their customer service department gets props for cuteness:
Inquiry: I am looking for a small rubber naked mole rat. Do you carry these, and if not, do you know anyone in the Austin area who does? Thanks!
I'm afraid we have no idea where to find such a thing. It might be easier to get a real one and laminate it or something!
Wade, Customer Service
Science Stuff, Inc.
So please, if anyone has any information leading to the purchase of a rubber naked mole rat, please e-mail me at the link below or leave a comment with the pertinent information. There is a small but lovingly crafted reward, and probably some undying gratitude in return.
July 26, 2004
I talked to Wendy at K&M Toys, and she told me they do indeed make rubber naked mole rats! Sadly, she could not sell them to individuals, and she could not tell me which specific stores have ordered them. She did refer me to their locator page, which lists stores in the area that carry K&M products. I'm going to call or write the places on the Austin list and hope somebody has something. If you have a minute to check the stores in your area, that would be most excellent.
July 28, 2004
Archie McPhee does not carry the rubber naked mole rat.
I got an e-mail from their customer service department confirming this.
August 01, 2004
I think we found one.
August 07, 2004
Sad but true
I have noticed lately in my referrer log that a lot of people are coming by here to look into buying naked mole rats to have as pets or tiny hairless mammalian servants or whatever.
I agree that they would be really fun to have as pets. They're lively and cute in a sick, wrinkly sort of way, and having one would make you the coolest kid on the block, no contest. That badass girl with the boa constrictor who thinks she's sooo exotic and bizarre would shit if you started going around with a naked mole rat in your front pocket.
But I've learned that the sad truth is that it's really not feasible to keep them, unless you have room for about 800 of them. If you separate them from their colony, they die. They're that dependent on each other.
Naked mole rats are eusocial. Their social structure is akin to bees or ants in that they have a queen, a few lucky inseminator males, and a handful of soldiers to protect the breeders. The rest are nonreproductive worker drones.
Anyhow, you should go learn more about them because they're pretty interesting little creatures.
If you really want to watch them in your own home, you can keep the National Zoo's naked mole rat cam up on your computer.
Ok, that's all on the naked mole rat front for now. We're still waiting for the rubber naked mole rat shipment to hit Rochester.
August 09, 2004
I was checking out the naked mole rat cam (only to get the url to link to it for the 800th time; I swear I don't spend my Friday nights watching naked mole rats scurry about in Windows Media; please, you really, really have to take my word on this). Anyway, one just up and DIED right in the middle of the tunnel intersection.
It's so awful. Right now all the other little naked mole rats are freaking out, running up and nudging and pushing and climbing over the dead one, trying to get it to move. (Breathe, goddammit, breathe! Number 2764, come on, don't you dare do this to me now!)
After several fruitless attempts at resuscitation, they go off to get help. Then even more naked mole rats race up to assess the situation, and it's the same heart-wrenching drama all over again.
And pow, just like that, I actually have become a person who spends her Friday night watching naked mole rats in Windows Media. Sucks to be me, but I just can't tear myself away.
(By the way, rubber naked mole rat = gummi-nacktmull.)
I am very nearly over the naked mole rat obsession, you'll be glad to know. But I did become the second member of a naked mole rat webring today (thanks, Zoidberg!).
October 19, 2004
Plush mole rat
This was a gift from my friend Cat. She's good like that.
You know, it's been two months since I gave up my search, and I still can't believe Wild Planet discontinued their rubber naked mole rat. I mean, really, how could that not be their hottest seller?
December 07, 2004
Here we go again
I'd abandoned this site for several months, but I got a naked mole rat e-card from a friend the other day. That got me to thinking, and I realized I hadn't exhausted all my resources because I had not yet looked for one on Craigslist. So I posted a request in the "wanted" section.
I'm not very optimistic that this will work, but a girl's gotta try.
April 12, 2005
Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the search or offered support, especially Rochus.
April 22, 2005
Woohoo! The rubber naked mole rat made it from Germany to Michigan this week. This has to be the happiest picture I've ever posted.