Lophiomys imhausicrested rat

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Geographic Range

Lophiomys imhausi is found in Eastern Africa. They have been recorded from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Fossil remains have been discovered in Israel (Kingdon 1974 ; Walker 1975).

Habitat

Lophiomys imhausi is found in woodlands and most frequently in highland areas. However, they are also found in lowlands, such as those of Somalia. They live in burrows or holes in rocks, hollow dead tree trunks, holes near ravines, or in the bushy areas near river banks (Kingdon 1974 ; Walker 1975).

Physical Description

Lophiomys imhausi body length ranges from 225 to 360 mm and tail length from 140 to 175 mm. Females are generally larger than males. Maned rats have relatively short limbs and a long body.

Lophiomys imhausi has a unique skull. Bony projections extend over the eye socket and the parietal section is enlarged. Additionaly, the skull is reinforced by additional bone in some areas. These special features are presumed to be for added protection against attacks.

Maned rat fur color ranges from light gray to dark black or dark brown with patterns of white stripes, spots, and/or blotches. Their tail is bushy and they have small ears. They are able to erect their fur by means of their complex glandular system. The glandular system then releases foul smelling chemicals similar to chemicals that are released by skunks. This behavior is a response to being disturbed or threatened. Maned rats have specialized feet and hands for feeding as well as climbing (Kingdon 1974; Walker 1975).

  • Range mass
    590 to 920 g
    20.79 to 32.42 oz

Reproduction

Little is known of reproduction in maned rats. It is thought they have two to three young per litter. These young emerge with abundant hair (Kingdon 1974).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    1.75
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Maned rats have several ways of dealing with the threat of predators. When threatened or alarmed, they will erect their mane causing them to have the appearance of a porcupine, they also emit a foul odor. They expose their stripes to draw attention to these glands. Because of this, the glands are thought to contain poisons or toxins. One account details dogs foaming at the mouth and dying after ingestion of a maned rat. Another way that maned rats respond to threats is to thrash their body back and forth while they snap their teeth. They also snort, hiss, and grunt. These are possibly adaptations that maned rats have developed to compensate for their slow moving nature. They are good climbers and can descend head first but move quite slowly.

Maned rats are nocturnal and have few natural predators.

Maned rats usually travel alone but have been documented in pairs or in groups of a mother and her young. They also may co-exist with other types of rodents and with hyraxes (Hanney 1975; Kingdon 1974; Walker 1975).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Maned rats are herbivorous, normally feeding on fruits and roots. However, when brought into captivity they will eat roots, cereals, and animal foods as well. They are especially fond of the leaves of sweet potato plants. They do not have to drink often because the foods they consume provide adequate moisture. While eating, maned rats take a sitting position, then grasp the food in their hands using their thumbs to manipulate the food and bring it to their mouth (Kingdon 1974; Walker 1975).

Conservation Status

Maned rats are abundant in some areas of their range (Kingdon 1974).

Other Comments

Two parasites that are found on L. imhausi are plague fleas and Amphopsylla conversa.

Contributors

Sara Morales (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

Hanney, P. 1975. Rodents: Their Lives and Habitats. Ny: Taplinger Publishing Co, Inc.

Kingdon, J. 1974. East African Mammals an Atlas of Evolution in Africa, Volume II Part B. Ny: Academic Press Inc.

Walker, E. 1975. Mammals of the World, Third Edition Volume II. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.