Malabar spiny dormouse

Platacanthomys lasiurus

SUBFAMILY

Platacanthomyinae

TAXONOMY

Platacanthomys lasiurus Blyth, 1859, India. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Malabar spiny mouse, and blind tree mice. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length 5.1-8.3 in (130-212 mm); tail 2.9-3.9 in (75-100 mm) long. They have a delicate, pointed muzzle, small eyes, and naked ears. Their dental formula is the same as other murids and they lack premolars. The underfur is dense and soft and is intermixed with a thick layer of flattened spines on the back and fewer, smaller spines on the under-parts. The tail is long, sparsely furred, scaly, and is tipped with long hairs that form a distinct brush. Fur color is generally reddish brown on the back and head and grayish white on the belly and feet. The tail is darker than body color, but terminates in a light-colored tip.

DISTRIBUTION

Occur in southern India in habitats below 9,840 ft (3,000 m). HABITAT

Typically found in forested habitats and rocky hillsides between 1,970-2,950 ft (600-900 m) in elevation. They construct nests of leaves and moss in trees and rock crevices.

BEHAVIOR

Arboreal, moving by climbing and leaping in trees. They are active at night.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Eat fruit, grains, seeds, and roots. They are called "pepper rats" because they eat large quantities of pepper fruits.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The specifics of reproduction are unknown.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Quite abundant and are not considered threatened. SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Locally abundant, becoming agricultural pests in some areas, particularly on pepper crops. ♦

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