The bamboo rats are four species of rodents of the subfamily Rhizomyinae. They are the sole living representatives of the tribe Rhizomyini. All are found in the eastern half of Asia.
Bamboo rats vary in size. The Lesser Bamboo Rat is typically 5.09 to 9.84 in (15 to 25 cm long), and weighs from 17.64 to 26.46 oz (500 to 750 g). The Sumatra Bamboo Rat, which can reach lengths of nearly 19.69 in (50 cm) with a 7.87 (20 cm) tail, and weighs up to 8.82 lbs (4 kg). However they are all bulky, slow-moving rodents that live and forage in extensive burrow systems. They rarely spend much time above ground. They feed on the underground parts of plants. They live at altitudes of 3,937 to 4,593 feet (1200 to 4000 m). Except for the Lesser Bamboo Rat, feed principally on bamboo and live in dense bamboo thickets. The Lesser Bamboo Rat is more variable in its habitat. It lives in grassy areas, forests, and sometimes gardens, and eats a wider variety of vegetation.
All the bamboo rats are regarded as agricultural pests. They eat the roots of a range of crop plants such as tapioca, sugar cane, and tea bushes, but they are also recognized as valuable food animals. The Chinese Bamboo Rat is sold in food markets in China.