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







Long-tailed Giant Rat

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3








Family : Muridae
Species : Leopoldamys sabanus

Head-Body Length : up to 27 cm
Tail Length : up to 41 cm
Weight : up to 500 gms

This is the most widespread of the 6 species of long-tailed giant rat which make up the genus Leopoldamys. It mainly inhabits lowland, hill and lower montane forest in many parts of Southeast Asia, typically up to elevations of around 1200 metres, although in extreme cases it has been found much higher (for example, at 3100 metres on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu in Borneo).

The wide distribution could indicate that this may be a complex of unresolved species.

Its fur is short, sleek and glossy. Its colour is typically dark brown on the back, rump and muzzle, and golden-brown on the flanks and side of the head (paler forms occur away from the mainland). The belly is yellowish-white to dull white, and there is a clear colour demarcation between the fur on the flanks and belly.

The forward part of the tail is dark above and pale below, but the rear half is typically pale. The tail is scaly with short bristles.

Though mainly a ground dweller, this species is adapted for climbing and is semi-arboreal - on occasion it may explore higher into the forest canopy. It nests in tree holes and burrows, and feeds on fruits, vegetation and insects. 

The Long-tailed Giant Rat occurs in eastern India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and Borneo.

Figs 1 to 3 : Examples from mature, lowland secondary forest in Peninsular Malaysia.

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