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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 10:18 EDT

Greater Cane Rat, Thryonomys swinderianus

The greater cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus) is one of two species of cane rats found in Africa. They prefer to reside in reed beds or riverbanks south of the Saharan Desert. They have adapted well to urbanization and will also live on plantations. The nocturnal greater cane rat lives in small groups that are led by one alpha male and will make their burrows underground or in grasses. The diet of this cane rat consists of cane plants and grasses. When frightened, the greater cane rat will flee into water, emitting grunting noises as it runs.

The greater cane rat is becoming more involved in human affairs in different ways. Since this rat eats grasses and cane plants, it is thought to be an agricultural pest. Humans have begun to eat the rat as a delicacy. Known in some areas of Africa as “grass cutters” or “cutting grass”, these rats may be raised in cages and sold as a micro livestock. The current conservation status of the greater can rat is of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: A male Greater Cane Rat (Thryonomys swinderianus) in a breeding station in Owendo, Gabon. Credit: Aurélia Zizo/Wikipedia

Greater Cane Rat Thryonomys swinderianus