Temporal range: Late Miocene - Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Superfamily: Muroidea
Family: Spalacidae
Subfamily: Myospalacinae
Lilljeborg, 1866


Zokors are Asiatic burrowing rodents resembling mole rats. They include two genera, Myospalax and Eospalax. Zokors are native to much of China, Kazhakstan, and Siberian Russia.

Traditionally, zokors were thought to be closely related to either hamsters (Cricetinae) or voles (Arvicolinae). Recent molecular phylogenetic studies have demonstrated that zokors are more closely related to blind mole rats (Spalacinae)and root and bamboo rats (Rhizomyinae) in the family Spalacidae. It appears as if one of the first important evolutionary splits in muroid rodents is between burrowing forms and non-burrowing forms.

Unlike the other spalacids, which primarily use their incisors, zokors use their powerful front claws for digging. They have small eyes and no external ears. Zokors feed on plant matter such as tubers and seeds.

Zokor bone is sometimes used as a more environmentally friendly alternative to tiger bone in traditional Chinese medicine. This product is called Sailonggu.

The Myospalacinae contains a single genus and 7 species.


Subfamily Myospalacinae


  • Jansa, S. A. and M. Weksler. 2004. Phylogeny of muroid rodents: relationships within and among major lineages as determined by IRBP gene sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 31:256-276.
  • Musser, G. G. and M. D. Carleton. 2005. Superfamily Muroidea. pp. 894–1531 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
  • Norris, R. W., K. Y. Zhou, C. Q. Zhou, G. Yang, C. W. Kilpatrick, and R. L. Honeycutt. 2004. The phylogenetic position of the zokors (Myospalacinae) and comments on the families of muroids (Rodentia). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 31:972-978.
  • Nowak, R. M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 2. Johns Hopkins University Press, London.