Origin Tales: How Mole-rat Lost His Fur
How Mole-rat Lost His Fur
By CC Clayton
Have you ever wondered why Mole-rat’s fur can’t be found? Or why he lives deep in the cold, hard ground?
A long time ago, before cable television, before humans learned to speak, back when Owl sang the sun up, Mole-rat lived a life of ease in the lush green grass below the World Tree. He had plenty of brothers and sisters who roamed the grasslands, but he mostly just kept to himself.
He loved being alone. It’s not that he didn’t love his siblings, but he didn’t like the looks they gave when he passed by. You see, of all his kind, Mole-rat had the longest, fluffiest fur you ever did see. A brilliant gold cloud, Mole-rat’s fur floated around him wherever he went and everywhere he went other animals would say how handsome he looked.
Of course, Mole-rat enjoyed the attention everyone gave. You might even say he was a wee bit vain. He combed his fur ten times a day, twelve times on holidays, to keep it clean and knot free. He even gave up eating the tubers he loved, resigning himself to eating only potatoes that grow close to the surface. The thought of dirty fur gave him the shivers.
Not everyone liked Mole-rat’s fur, however. Lion sat in the tall grass and glared as Mole-rat walked by. He wanted to have fur as wonderfully golden and long. Instead, he had short tan fur that barely kept him warm at night. Lion would sit there and plot how he could get fur like Mole-rat, his pride keeping him from asking Mole-rat for his fur-growing secret.
Mole-rat’s secret was simple of course: a dash of honey, a nip of World Tree sap, and a good long nap in the warm noonday sun. Others had asked him his secret, but he always left off one of the ingredients just to be sure. His mother had always said he was one-of-a-kind and he was going to keep it that way.
One day, Lion had an idea, a vicious and heartlessly hurtful idea. As Mole-rat lay basking in the sun smelling of honey, Lion crept through the grass and snatched up every single one of Mole-rat’s relatives. He hid them beneath a dark gnarled root of the World Tree. Then he went back to wake Mole-rat.
“Mighty fine and warm today, eh Mole-rat?” Lion growled. “You must be sweaty underneath all that fur.”
“Oh no,” said Mole-rat quite content. “My body adjusts to any temperature. As without, so within, my mama always told me.”
“Interesting,” Lion said. “You seem to love your fur a lot.”
“More than anything in the whole world,” Mole-rat squeaked, smoothing it in places so it laid just right.
“More than your family?” Lion growled.
“Well more than anything certainly does seem like it would encompass my family,” Mole-rat said. But then he paused and looked at Lion’s sharp-toothed grin. “Wait, what have you done?”
“You see, Mole-rat,” Lion said. “I want fur as long and beautiful as yours and I’m quite willing to go to any lengths to get it.”
“Don’t hurt my family!” Mole-rat pleaded. He suddenly felt very warm indeed beneath his fur.
“Give me the secret and I swear I’ll let them go,” Lion purred.
Mole-rat didn’t want to give up his secret and lose the only thing that made him special among the animals. So he told a little white lie.
“You need to get the honey from Bee and slather it on thick,” Mole-rat said. “Then you need to go lie next to Ant’s hill in the sun. Do that and you will grow fur as luxurious as mine.”
“Indeed, just that easy huh?” Lion said. But he had heard that Mole-rat was not quick to give out his fur-enhancing secret. “Well, we’ll see about that.”
Quick as a wink, Lion bared his claws and sank them so deep into Mole-rat’s fur that they pierced his skin.
“Now tell me the truth,” Lion sneered savagely, “Or you will feel more pain than this.”
What Lion didn’t know was that Mole-rat couldn’t feel anything. His skin didn’t have any feeling in it after all the times he smeared sap on his skin. But Mole-rat didn’t tell that to Lion. Instead he squeaked the most scared squeak he could manage.
“Oh I can’t bear the pain, it’s the truth I swear,” Mole-rat lied. “Please tell me where my family is.”
“Very well,” Lion said, excited about going to get his fabulous fur growing. “They are beneath the third root to the left of the World Tree.”
Mole-rat scampered away to look for his family. He found them quick enough, but when he told them how he had tricked Lion, his family cried out in fear.
“Lion will surely kill us all!” they said. “What have you done! You should have just given him the secret to your beautiful fur.”
“Let us hid even further beneath the World Tree,” Mole-rat said, even though the thought of getting his hair all dirty made him quiver.
Sure enough, after Lion smothered himself in honey and laid by Ant’s sandy hill, Ant couldn’t resist himself and just had to go out and bite Lion right on the rump. Lion’s roar rumbled the World Tree, causing the animals to run with fear.
It wasn’t too long before Lion had found out where Mole-rat and his family had hid themselves. He began to snarl with rage and tear at the roots. Mole-rat’s family started to dig into the earth and tunnel even further down. Mole-rat wouldn’t follow them. His fabulous fur would be ruined! Lion’s claws were scrapping at the roots right above Mole-rat’s head. Then with a grunt and a snatch, Lion grabbed hold of Mole-rat’s fur. But like a hand in a cookie jar, Lion couldn’t get Mole-rat out of his hiding spot.
“Come on, brother,” Mole-rat’s siblings cried as Lion slammed him into the roots above. “Deeper into the ground. Just take off your fur.”
“But it’s the only thing that makes me who I am,” Mole-rat cried. “I won’t be special anymore.”
“But you’ll be with us and you’ll be alive and that makes you special indeed,” they said.
Mole-rat suddenly realized how selfish he had been, and how much he had really missed playing with his brothers and sisters. Fur was nice, but family was forever.
Mole-rat reached up and unzipped his fur. Beneath he was naked and pink and had beady eyes. But his family didn’t make fun of him or laugh at his looks. Instead they all ran and covered him with hugs.
“Let’s get out of here,” Naked Mole-rat laughed and that’s just what they did.
To this day, Mole-rat is naked as can be and perfectly happy that way. He cuddles with his family in the deepest of holes and eats the finest of sweet, succulent tubers. He doesn’t dare go back to the surface however. Lion isn’t too happy and still roars out his anger to the setting sun. He did keep Mole-rat’s golden fur however, and made it into his mane. It doesn’t cover all of him, but it sure does look pretty from the front.