Scientific Name: Thryonomys swinderianus
Common Name: Greater cane rat, Grootrietrot, Grosse
Rohrratte, Toio da canna da zucchero, Bambusratte, L'Aulacode grand, Rata de
cana de azucar, Siumbi, Vondo , Nhleti , Tsenzi, Bodi
Description: Rat-like, it is as big as a rabbit with
coarse, spiny hair. Despite it's name, it is more closely related to the
porcupine. Speckled dark brown on the upper parts. The under parts are
white/cream or light grey. The ears are small and rounded, almost hidden by the
hair. The muzzle is blunt and has a protruding pad in front of the nostrils. The
incisor teeth have two grooves near their inside edges. There are three fully
developed toes on each foot, each with a slightly curved claw. The tail is
Difference in Sex: Females are smaller. Females have
three pairs of nipples on the flanks.
Average Weight : males 4,5 kg and
Habitat: Reed beds and thick, tall grass near water.
Crops such as maize and sugar cane provide good habitat.
Habits: Mostly nocturnal but may also be active at dawn
and dusk. Shelters in the densest parts of reed beds, holes and under tree
roots. Grass and reeds are bitten off near the base and the stems are cut into
short lengths which are eaten one by one. Small groups of up to about 10 live in
patches of suitable habitat. If suspicious of danger they freeze, and if alarmed
dash away and then stop suddenly. They swim well. Does not bite when alarmed but
tries desperately to escape.
Main feeding time: Nocturnal
Size: Total length males 72cm, females 66 cm, tail
males 19 cm, females 18 cm.
Gestation: Up to 8 per litter with an average of 4 are
born after a gestation of 137-180 days. Young are born with hair and with their
eyes open and they can follow their mother about after an hour. They are weaned
at four weeks
Number of young at birth: 4 to 8 young are born from
August to December
Communication: The alarm signal is a whistle. When
alarmed they thump the ground with their hind feet.
Diet: Roots, shoots and stems of grass and reeds. Can
become a pest by eating cereals and root crops such as potatoes and ground nuts.
Enemies: Serval and Python