Armored Rat, Hoplomys gymnurus

The armored rat (Hoplomys gymnurus) is the only species within the Hoplomys genus. It is native to Latin America, with a range that extends from northern Honduras into northwestern Ecuador. It prefers a habitat at altitudes of up to 2,600 feet. It resides in burrows that can be up to 6.6 feet in length, and these burrows are typically located near a water source.

The armored rat bears spines across its back, resembling a porcupine, and indeed, they are more related to the porcupine than the brown rat. Males are typically larger than females, but the average weight of this rat is between 0.48 and 1.7 pounds, with a body length of up to thirteen inches and a tail length of up to ten inches. Its spines can reach a length of 1.3 inches.

Although the armored rat has been compared to Tome’s Spiny-rat, it has an elongated nose and smaller eyes. Its diet consists of green plants materials, insects, and fruit. Young are born in litters that can contain between one and three pups, and these babies will not grow their spines until they become at least one month of age. The armored rat appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: A picture of a stuffed Armored Rat taken at the National Museum of Natural History. Credit: ZeWrestler/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)