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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Indomalayan Niviventer

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3










Family : Muridae
Species : Niviventer fulvescens

Head-Body Length : Up to 17 cm
Tail Length : Up to 22 cm

Niviventer is a genus of medium-size, climbing  rat. Pimsai et al (2014) refer to 16 species in all, of which 12 are known to occur in Southeast Asia. The Indomalayan Niviventer, or Chestnut White-bellied Rat, is the most widespread species, but it may in fact be a complex of closely related species.

This niviventer occurs in a broad range of habitats including lowland, hill and montane forest of many types, including pine and deciduous forests, up to 2200 metres elevation (IUCN). It adapts well to disturbed habitats such as secondary forest, scrubland and gardens. It is both terrestrial and arboreal, and has been observed climbing on hanging vines and lianas. (Pimsai et al, 2014).

Its fur colour varies from orange-brown to yellowish-brown, the latter colour being more prevalent in Peninsular Malaysia (as in the example shown here). Scattered amongst the short body fur are thicker spines, and longer, dark guard hairs, particularly along the back.  There is sharp demarcation between the brown body fur and the belly fur, which is typically pure white but sometimes yellowish white.

The tail is around 1.2 times longer than the head-body length, and is dark above, pale below and generally with a pale tip. There are 6 well-developed soft pads beneath the hind feet, which is an adaptation to an arboreal mode of life.

The Indomalayan Niviventer occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, northern parts of Peninsular Malaysia, and the islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali. Outside the region it occurs in Nepal, northern India, Bangladesh and southern China.

Figs 1 and 2 : Juvenile specimen, with an estimated head-body length of 9 cm, from Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia at an elevation of 1300 metres. Note the yellowish-brown fur, dark guard hairs and white belly.

Fig 3 : Close-up of the rear part of the body showing the soft pads beneath the left hind foot, and the bicoloured tail.

References : M5

Pimsai, U., Pearch, M. J., Satasook, C., Bumrungsri, S., & Bates, P. J. Murine rodents (Rodentia: Murinae) of the Myanmar-Thai-Malaysian peninsula and Singapore: taxonomy, distribution, ecology, conservation status, and illustrated identification keys.  2014. Bonn Zoological Bulletin 63 (1): 15114

Thanks to Uraporn Pimsai and Paul Bates for assistance.