Which animals are bald or naked?

Which animals are bald or naked?

Some mammals and birds are born with fur, hair, or feathers – these babies or young are called precocial because they already have some features like their parents and can usually move independently soon after birth. 

There are also many mammals and birds that are born pink and without fur, hair, or feathers. They are called altricial because they are helpless, usually blind, and hairless or featherless. They grow their outer covering as they mature and age.

Some mammals, and humans, are born naked and grow hair on some parts of their body. Some animals appear to be naked but, if you look closely, they have hair, like the rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and elephant, which have sparse hair or tufts (small clumps) of hair on their ears or tail. Other animals, like reptiles and fish have scales or tough skin. 

Some animals have the word bald in their name, but they are not.

Northern Bald Ibis

For example, the Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) is a non-wading bird in the Threskiornithidae family of wading birds from southern Morocco and Syria, with glossy black feathers that have an iridescent green and purple sheen. It is not bald. It has a bald red face and head, which is how it got its name.

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a North American sea bird in the Accipitridae family of birds of prey. It has feathers, so it is not bald. It is called Bald Eagle because it is piebald, which means that its feather colouring is patterned black and white.

Breeding animals to be hairless might be a controversial or debatable topic. Some animals are bred artificially (by humans) to be hairless, such as hairless dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, and horses. There are some hairless animals that have dominant genes that pass down a hairless trait to their young (i.e. not controlled by humans, but a genetic mutation), such as the Sphinx Cat. Although, if you look closely at the skin of ‘hairless’ animals, there is a thin layer soft fuzzy hair.

The worldwide, recognized, registered hairless dogs include: the Chinese Crested Dog, the Mexican Hairless Dog, the Peruvian Hairless Dog, and the American Hairless Terrier. There are other hairless dogs that are not yet registered. However, some hairless dogs have tufts of hair and/or a thin layer of fuzzy fur.

Peruvian Hairless Dog

Even the Skinny Pig (Cavia porcellus), a guinea pig, is not fully bald, because it has tufts of hair on its nose and feet.

An animal that might be regarded as naturally bald or naked includes the Naked Mole-Rat (Heterocephalus glaber) in the Heterocephalidae family of rodents. It is also known as the Sand Puppy. It is not a dog – it is a burrowing rodent that looks like a big, pink, wrinkly rat. 

From Somalia and Kenya in East Africa, the Naked Mole-Rat is small, growing to 10 centimetres (4 inches) long, with short thin legs, large protruding teeth, and a long tail.

The Naked Mole-Rat is the only mammal that is almost entirely ectothermic. Mammals are endothermic because they can control their body temperature, and reptiles are ectothermic and cannot control their body temperature – that is why they use the environment to help them, by basking in the sun for long periods of time. So, the Naked Mole-Rat is a unique mammal. 

But, even the Naked Mole-Rat has some sparse, wiry hair.

Are there any readers who know of any natural, truly bald, or naked animals? 

Naked Mole-Rat

Tail tuft (elephant)
Ear tufts (hippopotamus)

Photographer of Peruvian Hairless Dog: Arnevold, 2011

Photographer of Naked Mole-Rat: Roman Klementschitz, 2013

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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