Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Naked mole rats are every bit as strange as they sound. They're cold-blooded mammals that live underground in big colonies run by a queen. They almost never get cancer and they can survive for 18 minutes with zero oxygen. They lose consciousness, and their heart rate and breathing slow way down. But as soon as oxygen is available again, they perk right up. A mouse, on the other hand, lasts about a minute. Researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago, along with colleagues in Europe and Africa, used a variety of metabolic tests to figure out what was going on. In low-oxygen environments — pretty common underground — mole rats can change their energy metabolism in all their crucial organs, so they don't need oxygen. They switch fuels, like a hybrid car. Instead of glucose metabolized with oxygen, they use fructose and metabolize it without oxygen. Knowing more about this metabolic trick might one day help in treating heart attacks and strokes, where a lack of oxygen is a killer.