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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.


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,
Joolie B.

The Mini Zoo Guy:
Dear Joolie,

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.



The National Zoo website has no naked mole rats for sale, but it does have a pretty nifty naked mole rat cam.

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 and Accoutrements have no rubber naked mole rats available for sale on their respective websites. I plan on calling them soon.

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.
(800) 795-7315

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.

Thank you.

Joolie B.

July 23, 2004 | Permalink