Lesser cane rat

Thryonomys gregorianus

TAXONOMY

Thryonomys gregorianus (Thomas, 1894), Kiroyo, Kenya. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Le petit aulacode; German: Kleine Rohrratte. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Males total length 16.0-22.4 in (410-575 mm); tail 4.3-6.8 in (110-175 mm); mass 3.1-5.3 lb (1.4-2.4 kg). Females total length 19.3-21.1 in (495-540 mm); tail 4.9-5.5 in (125-140 mm); mass 4.0-4.2 lb (1.8-1.9 kg). Except for size they are similar in build to the greater cane rat, with similar features. The skull is powerfully built, with large orange incisors.

DISTRIBUTION

The lesser cane rat can be found in a narrow belt from northern Cameroon to East Africa, where they are common and widespread, and further south as far as Zimbabwe and parts of Mozambique. More thorough investigation may extend their distribution into parts of South Africa.

HABITAT

They prefer higher altitudes on the eastern tropical escarpment where they are able to utilize drier terrain including rocky habitats.

BEHAVIOR

Nocturnal with some diurnal activity. They occur solitarily or in small family groups with a dominant male, females, and young. They prefer good grass cover but will also reside in rock crevices, under rocks, or in abandoned holes of spring-hare.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Vegetarian, feeding on the stems of many plants and grasses. REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Information sparse. Assumed to be polygynous. Records from eastern Zimbabwe reveal pregnant females during May (one female, two fetuses) and November (one female, three embryos).

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The same as the greater cane rat. They play an equally important role as bushmeat. In cultivated areas, they are regarded as a pest due to the destruction of crops and vegetables. ♦

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