Echinosorex gymnuramoonrat

Geographic Range

Echinosorex gymnurus is found on the Malay Peninsula south of about 12 N and also on Borneo and Sumatra.


The habitat of moon rats is primary and secondary lowland forest, mangrove swamps, rubber plantations and other cultivated areas. They seem to prefer moist areas, often near streams, with thick ground vegetation.

Physical Description

The coarse hair of moon rats is white on the head and distal part of the tail and is black elsewhere. The hair on the scaly tail is sparse. The face has black spots near the eyes. White forms are known. The long, mobile nose has a groove on its underside from the tip to a point between the upper incisors. The body is long and narrow. The canines are larger than the adjacent teeth. Head and body length ranges from 260 to 460 mm and females tend to be larger than males.

  • Range mass
    0.5 to 1.4 kg
    1.10 to 3.08 lb
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    2.816 W


Breeding occurs throughout the year. Two litters per year, each averaging two young, is typical. Gestation is usually betwen 35 and 40 days.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    37 days


Moon rats are solitary and do not seem to be tolerant of conspecifics. Captive animals emit "hiss-puffs" and low roars during encounters with each other and mark the entrances of their nest boxes with secretions from small, paired anal glands. The secretions are said to have the smell of rotten onions or ammonia.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The diet if the gymnure is varied, though there is some debate about what food items are most important. It seems that the main component of the diet is terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates such as earthworms, insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, crabs and molluscs. Some aquatic vertebrates like frogs and fish are also eaten, as well as fruit.

Conservation Status

Echinosorex gymnurus does not appear to be threatened currently.


David L. Fox (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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


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.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


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


uses touch to communicate


Corbet, G. B. 1988. The family Erinaceidae: synthesis of its taxonomy, phylogeny, ecology and zoogeography. Mammal Review 18: 117-172.

Lekagul, B. and McNeely, J. 1988. Mammals of Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok.

Nowak, R. M. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.