Angoni vlei rat

Otomys angoniensis

SUBFAMILY Otomyinae

TAXONOMY

Otomys angoniensis Wroughton, 1906, Malawi. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Vlei rats, whistling rats, karoo rats, groove-toothed rats.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Medium-sized, stocky rodents: head and body length 4.1-8.1 in (105-207 mm); tail 1.7-5.1 in (43-131 mm); weight 0.8-4.8 oz (25-138 g). Males and females are approximately the same size. The majority of this large amount of variation in size is distributed across regional populations. The blunt face and short ears give them an almost vole-like appearance. The fur is soft and long and is almost uniformly dark gray, brown, or reddish, with the underparts being slightly lighter. Tail is sparsely furred, dark above, and light below. Incisors are ungrooved and yellow.

DISTRIBUTION

Are found from southern Kenya to northeastern Cape Province, South Africa.

HABITAT

Found in the savannas and grasslands of central and southern Africa below 8,200 ft (2,500 m) in elevation. They are most common in moist, dense grasslands. They build nests in dense grass or in burrows, and runway systems through and under grasses and vegetation that form a dense canopy.

BEHAVIOR

Solitary animals, although congregations may occur near water and quality food sources. Throughout much of their range, they are active during the day, although they are primarily nocturnal in other areas. They swim across shallow water readily.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Herbivorous, eating mainly grasses, and reed shoots, roots, and rhizomes. Their hindguts are complex and elongated to accommodate their herbivorous diet. They also eat bark and seeds on occasion. Grass stems are cut off at their base and the tender parts eaten.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Reproduction is not well understood. They may begin breeding at four months old and breed several times in a year, with births peaking during wet seasons. Breeding is synchronized by photoperiod changes. Information on gestation period, number of young, and the development of young is unavailable. However, museum records indicate the litter size may be from one to five young. Young are born well developed, with a full coat of fur and their incisors, which they use to cling to their mother's nipples for a period of time.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Common throughout their range, they are not considered threatened. Their close relative Otomys occidentalis of Cameroon and Nigeria is considered Endangered.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Captured and eaten by humans in some areas. They are important parts of grassland ecosystems, involved in recycling nutrients and acting as an important and abundant prey base for small predators. ♦

0 0

Post a comment