Common molerat

Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus

SUBFAMILY

Georychinae

TAXONOMY

Bathyergus hottentotus (Lesson, 1826), Paarl, South Africa.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: African mole-rat.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Small mole-rats show sexual dimorphism (mean mass 2.7 oz [77 g] for males, 2 oz [57 g] for females). Coat color fawn to gray, head patch missing or very small.

DISTRIBUTION

Widespread over much of South Africa, sometimes in sympatry with other genera.

HABITAT

Occur in a wide diversity of soil types, though not in very loose sand. Occur in very arid to mesic areas.

BEHAVIOR

Social, in small colonies (up to 14) with a breeding female, her consorts, and their nonbreeding offspring, the workers. There is strong inhibition to incest.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feed almost exclusively on geophytes. Portable geophytes are stored close to the nest. Large ones are eaten in situ, and parts may be left to regenerate.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breed seasonally (October-January), having a maximum of two litters annually. Gestation length 59-66 days, mean litter size three (range one to five); pups do not disperse on weaning but remain as helpers.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

A pest where root crops are grown and in urban areas. ♦

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