Maned Rat, Lophiomys imhausi

The maned rat (Lophiomys imhausi), also known as the crested rat, has a range that includes Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda. It prefers a habitat located in highland forests and woodlands in these areas, while in Somalia and Ethiopia it prefers to reside in areas nearly at sea level. These rats will nest in hollow tree trunks or rocky areas, as well as within cliff-faces.

The maned rat can reach a length of up to twenty-one inches, including the tail. The soft undercoat of this rat is typically greyish white, while the rough guard hairs on top of the undercoat are silver with black tips. The legs and face are black in color. The rat is named for the long black and white striped mane that extends from the base of the tail to the tip of the head.

The mane is used as a defense mechanism, and when the rat feels threatened, it will extend the hairs. They appear to be spiky, but are actually soft and porous. The maned rat can be seen rubbing these hairs with a poison from a plant it chews on called Acokanthera schimperi. It will rub the bark of the plant on the hairs in order to collect the poison to use for defense. This method can seriously injure or even kill anything that tries to eat the rat.

The maned rat will typically consume plant materials like leaves and fruit, but it will also eat grains, meat, and insects in captivity. These rats will sit on their hind legs, using their forepaws to move food into the mouth. The conservation status of the maned rat is of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Lophiomys imhausi, Maned Rat. Credit: Kevin Deacon/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)