White-Tailed Rat (Mystromys albicaudatus)


White tailed rats
Lifeonwhite / Envato

The white-tailed rat, scientifically known as Mystromys albicaudatus, is a unique mammal and the only member of the subfamily Mystromyinae in the family Nesomyidae. This species is sometimes placed in the subfamily Cricetinae due to similarities in…


White tailed rat eating
bilanol / Envato

The white-tailed rat is characterized by its distinct features, including a white-colored tail that sets it apart from other species. It has a sleek, slender body with a length of approximately 15-20 cm and a tail length of 10-15 cm. The fur is predominantly gray-brown, providing effective camouflage in its natural habitat.


Young white tailed rat
cynoclub / Envato

The white-tailed rat is endemic to specific regions in southern Africa, primarily found in South Africa and Lesotho. Its habitat encompasses the Highveld grasslands, Succulent Karoo, and Fynbos ecosystems. Although once more widespread, the population has faced a decline, leading to its vulnerable status as listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Habitat Preferences

The white-tailed rat thrives in a variety of habitats, including grasslands and shrublands. It is well-adapted to the grassy plains and scrubby areas within its range. These environments provide ample cover for foraging and nesting, contributing to the species’ survival and well-being.

Overall, the white-tailed rat’s unique characteristics, limited distribution, and vulnerability underscore the importance of conservation efforts to ensure the continued existence of this fascinating species in its natural habitat.

Facts About White-tailed rat

  • The white-tailed rat (Mystromys albicaudatus) is the only living species in the genus Mystromys and the subfamily Mystromyinae.
  • Mystromys albicaudatus has 32 chromosomes consisting of 30 autosomes and 2 sex chromosomes.
  • This species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN due to habitat loss and degradation.
  • White-tailed rats are endemic to South Africa and Lesotho, inhabiting Highveld grasslands primarily, but also Succulent Karoo and Fynbos.
  • They are thickset, mouse-like rodents with soft wooly fur, and their body is coated with a brownish to grayish color.
  • The white-tailed rat’s diet mainly consists of grass seeds, but it also consumes some insects and green vegetation.
  • Their average litter size ranges from 2 to 5 offspring.
  • These rats are nocturnal, spending their days in burrows or grass tussocks and foraging during the night.
  • White-tailed rats are known for their agility and can leap several times their body length.
  • In some areas, they are considered agricultural pests due to their consumption of crops such as maize and sorghum.

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