Creek rat

Pelomys fallax

TAXONOMY

Pelomys fallax (Peters, 1852), Zambezi River, Mozambique.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Swamp rat, groove-toothed swamp rat.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 3.9-8.2 in (10-21 cm); tail 3.9-7 in (10-18 cm); weight 3.9-7 oz (100-170 g). The animal has rusty brown fur on top and a dirty white on bottom; the fur is rough, but not spiny. There is also a variable dorsal line that runs to the tail that is especially prominent in young animals. The tail is haired, with white below and black on top, and its length varies with populations. It has grooved upper incisors, which is unusual in the murines.

DISTRIBUTION

Distributed throughout southern Africa, in northern Mozambique, northwestern Zimbabwe, northern Botswana, Zambia, the Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, southwestern Uganda, and southern Kenya.

HABITAT

Inhabit streams, rivers, riverbanks, and swamps, or anywhere there is substantial amounts of water and vegetation. They can also live in grasslands, provided these areas border swamps or rivers.

BEHAVIOR

Generally diurnal and aquatic, it is an excellent swimmer and is said to be difficult to trap. It is often found sunbathing on matted reeds and grasses.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Vegetarian, and it eats reeds, grasses, seeds, and other plants and plant material.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Little is known, other than no predictable breeding season exists. The animals tend to reproduce in the warmer months, from August-April, and litter sizes ranger from 2-4 young. It is not determined if they live above or below ground: some believe they make shallow burrows, since their bodies have turned up in tilled fields, while others have surveyed habitat areas and have found no holes that could be burrows.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Not considered a pest and is eaten by tribes in Angola. ♦

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