Laotian rock rat

The Laotian rock rat or kha-nyou (Laonastes aenigmamus), sometimes called the “rat-squirrel”, is a rodent species of the Khammouan region of Laos.

The animals resemble large dark rats with hairy, thick tails like those on a squirrel. Their skulls are very distinctive and have features that separate them from all other living mammals.


The animals look like rats with thick, furred tails. They are about 10.24 in (26 cm) long with a 5.51 in (14 cm) tail and weigh about 14.1 oz (400 g).

Natural history

Laotian rock rats are found in regions of karst limestone. They appear to be found only among limestone boulders on hillsides. The animals are presumed to be nocturnal.

These rock rats appear to be predominantly herbivores, eating leaves, grass and seeds. They may eat insects as well, but probably not in high abundance. Females may give birth to a single young.

Laotian rock rats appear to be quite submissive and slow moving over open ground. They walk with feet splayed outward in a stride that has been described as duck-like. This appears to be efficient when scrambling up and across large rocks. The sideways angle allows for greater surface area for their feet to find a spot on an angled surface.