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







Rajah or Brown Spiny Rat

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5



Family : Muridae
Species : Maxomys rajah

Head-Body Length : Up to 23.5 cm
Tail Length : Up to 21 cm

The Rajah Spiny Rat (or Brown Spiny Rat) inhabits lowland forest, including primary or mature secondary forest. It is active at night, searching amongst leaf litter for food such as fallen fruits, young shoots and insects.

Its fur is brown on the upperside and flanks, with sometimes a reddish tinge, the belly is white, and there is a clear demarcation between the two colours. In adults there is usually a darker midline running along the belly.

Thicker hairs, or 'spines', occur over much of the body : these serve to keep the animal dry, allowing moisture to be easily shaken off.

The tail is dark above and pale below (except for the end of the tail which is pale throughout), and virtually hairless. The snout is pointed, the limbs short and the feet long and slender.

This species always lacks a dark band around the neck, a feature which is often present in the closely-related Red Spiny Rat Maxomys surifer.

This species ranges from Southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore to the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java.

Fig 1 : Specimen from lowland, secondary forest, Singapore.

Figs 2 and 3 : Male in lowland, secondary forest at the edge of Singapore's central forest.

Fig 4 : This species has been observed to mainly hop around the forest floor, rather than walk or run : the hind feet both leave the ground at the same time.

Fig 5 : Entrance to an underground burrow system in relatively loose soil: at the surface this hole measures 10 cm across.

References : M3, M5, M9