Large bamboo rat

Rhizomys sumatrensis




Rhizomys sumatrensis (Raffles, 1821), Malacca, Malaysia.


English: African mole rat, bamboo rat, root rat.


The largest species of bamboo rat: head and body length to 18.9 in (480 mm); tail to 7.8 in (200 mm); weight to 8.8 lb (4 kg). They have robust, streamlined bodies, with powerful limbs, strong claws, procumbent, orange incisors, and small eyes and ears. The fur is short and coarse, and is generally light gray. Individual hairs are tipped in white, giving them a frosted appearance. Their tails are scaled and without fur. Similar in appearance to American pocket gophers, but lack cheek pouches.


Found in Myanmar, Thailand, throughout Indochina, the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra.


Live in bamboo forests at elevations between 3,937-13,123 ft (1,200-4,000 m). They spend much of their lives in their underground burrows among the bamboo roots. Individuals use both their teeth and powerful claws to dig several burrows, each of which has is made up of foraging tunnels and nest chambers.


Not much is known about their behavior. They move slowly and can be fierce when cornered. They emit grunting and tooth-grinding noises when upset. They are probably solitary and active throughout the day.


Eat primarily bamboo roots, but will also forage aboveground at night, when they take stems, leaves, fruit, and seeds. They have been observed climbing bamboo stalks to cut sections that are then taken into the burrow.


Breeding occurs twice yearly, once from February-April and again from August-October. Litter size is one to five young. They are born naked and helpless in their mother's nest chamber, but develop quickly, being able to eat plant foods at one month old. They live for about four years.


Not currently threatened, though they may be vulnerable to habitat destruction and persecution by humans.


Sometimes are agricultural pests, especially of sugar cane and tapioca roots. They are captured as food by humans. ♦

Common name / Scientific name/ Other common names

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Conservation status

Setzer's hairy-footed gerbil Gerbillurus setzeri

Bushveld gerbil Tatera leucogaster English: Large naked-soled gerbil

Fat-tailed gerbil Pachyuromys dupras

Fat mouse

Steatomys pratensis

Stocky, with hairy feet and long, well-furred tail. Light brown in color, with white underparts. Tail has brushy tip and a length of 4.4-5.8 in (11.3-14.5 cm). Head and body length is 8.5-10 in 21.7-26.3 cm).

Information on diet Is Not listed by limited. Known to eat IUCN seeds, insects, and other plant material.

Sleek, short fur, large eyes, well-developed hindlimbs and long, bi-colored tails. Soles of the hindfeet are bare. Body length 3.5-7.9 in (9-20 cm) and tail length 4.5-9.7 in (11.5-24.5 cm).

Unusual member of the gerbil subfamily is relatively stocky and short-legged. Most notable feature is a short, thick tail, which appears somewhat club shaped and probably serves to store fat. Fur is soft and ranges from light yellow to buffy brown. Ears are short and white and the eyes are large. Full complement of whiskers along the nose. Head and body length is about 4 in (10.5 cm) and tail length is 1.5-2.5 in (4.5-6 cm).

Thick-bodied, with short, round ears, and a thick tail. Four fingers and five toes and grooved upper incisors. Commonly brown above with white below, fur is soft and short. Length 2.5-5.8 in (6.514.5 cm) and tail length 1.3-2.3 in (3.45.9 cm).

Extremely arid and hot areas Along the coasts of of the Namib Desert, most Angola and Namibia, in often on compacted, gravel the Namib desert. plains, but sometimes colonize dune areas when population densities are high. They construct burrows, which guard them from the extremes of temperature and aridity in their habitat. Burrows are complex, branched, and tend to be longer and deeper than those of most gerbils. Characteristics of burrows, and the fact that these gerbils are more tolerant of conspecifics than are other gerbils, suggests that they are more social than most gerbil species.

Arid grasslands, plains, and From Angola and Seeds, roots, bulbs, woodlands with soils suitable Tanzania to South Africa. foliage, and insects.

for burrowing. Large burrow systems with multiple entrances and nest chambers. Active at night and generally move by walking, but are capable of large, bounding hops when they must make a rapid escape.

Not listed by IUCN

Believed to be restricted to a particular desert habitat, hamadas, which are gravelly areas marked by perennial bushes.

Northern Sahara region, from Morocco to Egypt.


Not listed by IUCN

Found in a variety of habitats, from arid areas to forests and agricultural areas. Active at night and construct burrows in loose soils. Burrows are deep but simple, consisting of entrance and exit tunnels and a main sleeping chamber. Solitary, except for mothers and their young.

Found throughout much Seeds, grass bulbs, and Not listed by of Africa, from Cameroon and Sudan in the north to Namibia and eastern South Africa in the south.

insects. Known for their ability to accumulate layers of fat that enable them to remain underground and inactive during seasons when food is scarce. Because of their high fat content they are considered a delicacy by indigenous peoples.



Common name / Scientific name/ Other common names

Physical characteristics

Habitat and behavior



Conservation status

Delany's swamp mouse Delanymys brooksi

Bukovin mole rat Spalax graecus

Chinese pygmy dormouse Typhlomys cinereus

East African mole rat Tachyoryctes splendens

Pouched mouse Saccostomus campestris

Reddish brown above, with white chin and buffy underparts. Similarities in the structure of their cheek teeth has resulted in them being classified with rock mice in the subfamily Petromyscinae, though they are not alike in external appearance. Small mice with an extraordinarily long tail. Body length is 1.9-2.5 in (5-6.3 cm) and tail length 3.4-4.4 in (8.7-11.1 cm).

Powerful rodents with solid, chunky bodies, short legs and no tail, making them very mole-like in appearance. Dense, soft fur moves in either direction, making it easier to move in tunnels. Fur varies from brown to gray, with a lighter belly. Stiff whiskers extend from the snout to the eye; may serve as touch sensors. Head and body length is 6.713.8 in (17-35 cm) and weight is 0.51.25 oz(21.5-7 g).

Soft, dense fur that is deep gray, underparts lighter in color. Long tail is moderately furred and scaly, with white, brush-like tip. Although not superficially similar to Malabar spiny dormice, their dental formulae and structure are the same. Body length 2.8-3.8 in (7-9.8 cm), and tail length 3.7-5.3 in (9.5-13.5 cm).

Compact and sturdily built fossorial mammals, resembling North American gophers. Eyes and ears are small but visible. Large incisors project from their mouth beyond the lips. Claws are not large, as in other fossorial murids, but the legs are powerful. Fur is thick, dense, and soft, and varies in color from very dark to pale grays and browns. Body length is 6.3-10.2 in (16-26 cm), tail length 2-3.7 in (5-9.5 cm), and weight 0.3-0.6 oz (160-280 g).

Gray to brown robust, hamster-like mice with large cheek pouches, short, dense, fine fur, and short legs and tail. Belly, limbs, and ventral tail are white. Head and body length 3.7-7.4 in (9.418.8 cm), tail length 1.2-3.2 in (3-8 cm), and weight 0.08-0.18 oz (40-85 g).

Little is known about these mice. Limited distribution, high elevation marshes between 5,280 and 8,610 ft (1,700 and 2,625 m) elevation. Nocturnal and climb well, using tail to balance. Globular grass nests with two entrances in vegetation above the ground.

Live in soils suitable for digging that get at least 4 in (100 mm) of rainfall each year. Variety of habitats, from plains to hilly areas and cultivated fields. Construct elaborate burrows with an upper level for foraging and lower levels with nesting chambers, storage areas, and chambers for defecating. Burrow systems can be quite extensive and mole rats are active throughout the year. Active throughout the day but sometimes forage above ground during the night. Blind mole rats are solitary.

Montane cloud forests dominated by dwarfed trees and bamboo understory. Elevations between 4,000 and 6,890 ft (1,200-2,100 m). Little is known about this mammal, although indigenous people readily trap them.

Prefer moist grasslands in upland areas and agricultural fields. Can be found at high elevations, up to 13,600 ft (4,150 m). Construct large and complex burrows, including foraging tunnels, nest chamber lined with grass, escape tunnel, and a chamber for defecation. In dry seasons may become less active and burrow deeper into the earth. They burrow mainly using their large incisors, periodically turning in the burrow to push accumulated soil out of the tunnel with cheeks and forepaws. Active throughout the day and appear to be solitary.

Savannas, scrub forest, agricultural areas, and sandy plains. Dig own simple burrows or use those of others. Active at night, move relatively slowly, and store seeds during summer for winter use.

High altitude marshes of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) and western Uganda.

Romania and southwestern Ukraine.

Found in southern China and northern Vietnam.

Eastern Africa, Including Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, and northern Tanzania.

Mainly seeds.

Not listed by IUCN

Primary diet is made up of underground parts of plants, including roots and tubers. Sometimes forage on grasses, seeds, and insects above ground.


Diet is unknown.

Critically Endangered

Underground parts of plants, roots and tubers, although sometimes forage for grasses and legumes at the surface.

Not listed by IUCN

Southern Africa, from Angola, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to South Africa.

Omnivorous, eating seeds, grain, nuts, fruit, and insects.

Not threatened

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