Nesokia indicashort-tailed bandicoot rat

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Geographic Range

The Bandicoot rat covers a wide range from Egypt to Sinkiang and northern India. (Nowak 1991)

Habitat

The bandicoot rat lives mainly in moist areas or along streams and canals. It is found in deserts, steppes, cultivated areas, and forests. The elevational range is from about 26 meters below to about 1,500 meters above sea level. (Nowak 1991) The bandicoot rat prefers to live in areas with soft soil and good vegetation coverage. When the soil becomes dry, N. indica migrates away to softer soil. (Prakash 1992)

Physical Description

The head and body of N. indica measures 140-215 mm and its tail length is 88-129 mm. Its robust form characterizes this rat. The head is short and rounded and the muzzle is short and broad. The pest rat has eight mammae. (Pingale 1967; Nowak 1991) The pelage of the bandicoot rat varies from coarse, short, harsh, and semispinous to long, fine and silky. The consistency of the coat has been found to be both dense and thin. The dull brown or grayish brown on the back gradually merges with the light grayish underparts. (Pingale 1967; Nowak 1991)

The feet and tail are scantily haired. The feet are also broad and the ears are rounded. The hand has four functional fingers and the foot has five toes. All the claws except the rudimentary thumb have strong, nearly straight nails. (Nowak 1991; Pingale 1967))

The palatal foramina are very shortened. The incisors of N. indica are proodont and are stout and broad. (Nowak 1991; Prakash 1992)

Reproduction

Not much is known about the reproduction biology of the pest rat. In captivity, breeding occurs throughout the year. However, in Punjab, it has been reported that litters are produced in the winter. Litter size usually varies from two to seven. (Prakash 1992) It has been suggested that the gestation period is about seventeen days. (Nowak 1991)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual

Behavior

The pest rat is nocturnal and fossorial. They make extensive burrows with several chambers. The burrows are about 9-56 cm deep. At each of the openings, there are mounds of excavated soil. The patterns of these burrows vary, but most zigzag and have many openings, although some are simple with one or two openings. The tunnels are roughly circular in diameter (3.5-11.5 cm) and range in length from 17- 3443 cm. They close their exit holes with soil for about 15-60 cm. (Prakash 1992) These rats are inactive during the winter. (Prakash 1992)

A single rat occupies each burrow. (Nowak 1991)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The pest rat feeds on leaves and roots of lawn grass. However, N. indica also consumes crops such as barley, wheat, potato, ground nut, sugar cane, mustard, brinjal, and watermelon. (Prakash 1992) This rat sometimes stores food in its burrow. (Nowak 1991)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Native people use the bandicoot rat and the food stored in its burrows as food. (Nowak 1991)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The tunneling of the bandicoot rat damages irrigation walls. Also, raiding of fields by N. indica does considerable damage to vegetable, fruit and grain crops. (Nowak 1991)

Conservation Status

This rat is the only species in the genus Nesokia. (Nowak 1991) External, cranial, genetic, and dental morphology suggests a close phylogenic relationship to Bandicota indica. (Wilson 1993)

Contributors

Michael Song (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

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

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

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.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

sexual

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

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

Nowak, 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World Fifth Edition Volume II. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Pingale & Krishnamurthy & Ramasivan, 1967. Rats. Foodgrain Technologists' Research Association of India, Hapur.

Prakash & Gosh, 1992. Rodents in Indian Agriculture Volume 1 State of the Art. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur.

Wilson & Reeder, 1993. Mammal Species of The World A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference Second Edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.