Unusual features/differences from similar
The muzzle has a protective pad which protrudes in front
of the nostrils.
The gnawing teeth have two grooves near the inside edge.
Cane rats prefer reed beds and
thick, tall grass near water. The can do damage to crops such as maize and sugar cane.
They eat roots, shoots, grass
and reeds. Grass stems are bitten off near the base and then into short lengths
which they eat while holding it in the front feet feet. The drier sections and leaves are
not eaten but discarded and mark the location of the feeding sites. They will dig to get to
underground food sources and nuts and fallen fruit. They will eat the bark of shrubs and trees.
They often become pests by eating cereals and root crops.
Litters of up to 8 pups (average of 4) are born after a gestation of
about 160 days. The young are born with
hair and open eyes. The can follow their mother shortly after birth and are weaned at four weeks.
Their predators are leopards, baboons, pythons and
Cane rat meat is (reportedly) delicious and large numbers are caught and eaten by
people. They are
farmed for their meat and can attain a weight of over to 8 kg in captivity.
Behavior and Habits
Cane rats are mostly nocturnal but may are also active at dawn and dusk.
They shelter in the
densest parts of grass and reed beds or in holes. Small groups of up to about 10 live
together. If they suspect danger they stand motionless and run away and then
stop suddenly when alarmed. A cane rat does not bite when caught but try desperately to escape.
When disturbed they have a habit of running
away an then stopping and standing motionless until they are closely approached.
They are good swimmers.
signal is a whistle and they will thump the ground with their hind feet.
When a group is feeding together they make soft, grunting sounds.
Dung and Field sign
Droppings are compact flattened pellets
about 2cm long, light coloured and rough surfaced with a groove on
one side. Pathways through vegetation, piles of discarded stems and
leaves and dung at feeding sites show their presence.