Crested rat

Lophiomys imhausi

SUBFAMILY

Lophiomyinae

TAXONOMY

Lophiomys imhausi Milne-Edwards, 1867, Somalia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Maned rat.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Distinguished by a number of distinctive features. Head and body length 10-14.1 in (255-360 mm); tail 5.5-8.4 in (140-215 mm); weight 20.8-32.4 oz (590-920 g). Females are typically larger than males. The fur is long, dense and silky, except for an erectile crest of coarse fur along the back and onto the tail; this crest, or mane, is raised when the animal is startled. The fur on either side of the mane is shorter, and lighter in color, having the effect of emphasizing the mane. The fur is generally brown or black with a pattern of white stripes and spots extending from the head. Individual hairs are banded with dark and light color, giving them a frosted appearance. The under-parts are dark in color and the feet are black; the tail is bushy and tipped in white. They have a blunt face and short, rounded ears; they resemble small porcupines. They have four digits on their hands and feet and a partially opposable thumb, making them well adapted to arboreal life. Their skulls are strangely modified; the temporal fossae are entirely covered in bone and the surface of the skull appears granulated.

DISTRIBUTION

Found in southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Sudan. HABITAT

There is some disagreement on what kinds of habitats they are found in They are generally believed to be restricted to montane forests, but are found from sea level to 10,825 ft (3,300 m) in Ethiopia in a variety of habitats.

BEHAVIOR

Nocturnal and solitary, they emerge from their burrows at dusk to begin foraging. They are arboreal and are adept at climbing, though they do so slowly. They emit hissing, snorting, and growling sounds.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Herbivorous, they use their hands to grasp leaves and shoots and eat them while sitting on their hindquarters.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Very little is known about their reproduction. They may have one to three young at a time, which develop quickly and are capable of feeding on their own at 40 days old. May live for a long time, reaching almost eight years old in captivity.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Information on populations is incomplete; they are not currently listed as threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

May be eaten by natives on occasion. ♦

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