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







Sundaic Mountain Rat

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3












Family : Muridae
Species : Leopoldamys ciliatus

Head-Body Length : up to 26 cm
Tail Length : up to 39 cm
Weight : up to 400 gms

The genus Leopoldamys are a distinct group of rats known as long-tailed giant rats. IUCN lists 6 species of such rat, all of which occur in Southeast Asia. These are large rats, with very long tails, smooth fur and narrow, elongated skulls.

The Sundaic Mountain Rat is typical of the genus - its body form is long and relatively slender, and its tail is around 1.5 times the head-body length.

This is a nocturnal mammal, which inhabits montane and lower montane forests typically above 1000 metres, although there are some records at lower altitudes at around 600 metres. Although its altitudinal range somewhat overlaps that of the Long-tailed Giant Rat Leopoldamys sabanus, a closely-related lowland species, it is apparently unusual to find both species living alongside each other.

It appears particularly common where there are numerous crevices and exposed tree roots beneath which it can search for food and take shelter when needed.  It is mainly terrestrial, but may climb onto low shrubs and branches, and  its nests have been recorded in tree holes up to 2 metres above the ground.

Its fur colour is dark brown on the upperside, flanks and head, and yellowish white to white on the belly. There is strong demarcation between the dark brown fur and white fur on the lowermost part of the flanks. Some specimens reportedly have a dark patch on the chest, either grey or brown, which is absent in the specimen shown here.

It has an omnivorous diet which includes various fruits, vegetation and insects.

This species only occurs in mountainous parts of Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra.

Figs 1 to 3 : Male specimen from Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia, at an elevation of 1250 metres. Despite being a wild forest rat, this individual was easily attracted to small fruits, and appeared unconcerned about the close proximity of the photographer.

References :

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