Natal multimammate mouse

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Natal multimammate mouse
Mastomys natalensis.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Genus: Mastomys
Species: M. natalensis
Binomial name
Mastomys natalensis
Smith, 1834
  • Mastomys hildebrandtii (Peters, 1878)
  • Myomys fumatus (Peters, 1878)

The Natal multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis) is a species of rodent in the family Muridae. It is also known as the Natal multimammate rat, the common African rat, or the African soft-furred rat.[1]


It is found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Mastomys natalensis is commonly known as the “multimammate rat” due to the female’s multiple and prominent mammary glands


Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, dry savanna, moist savanna, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, arable land, pastureland, rural gardens, urban areas, irrigated land, and seasonally flooded agricultural land.

These rats associate closely with humans, and are commonly found in and around African villages.

In 1972, the Natal multimammate mouse was found to be the natural host of the Lassa fever virus.


The Natal multimammate rat is currently being bred in the US and Canada as a replacement food source for reptiles, replacing the brown rat as a viable food source for picky eaters. It is also recognized as one of the natural food sources for ball pythons. They are also being used for stomach cancer research, among other ailments. Europeans have begun breeding them for companion animal use, namely in Germany and England. This trend is also catching, slowly, in the US and Canada.

They thrive in small breeding colonies, but chew on anything they can reach. Thus regular rat rack systems do not work; 10 gallon glass fish tanks work best. Also glass water bottles are needed. They have litters of 10-20 babies monthly, and reach sexual maturity at around three months of age.

Only recently has it been introduced to the pet trade, and is more often kept as a feeder rodent for snakes than as a pet.



  • Granjon, L., Lavrenchenko, L., Corti, M., Coetzee, N. & Rahman, E.A. 2004. Mastomys natalensis. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 9 July 2007.
  • Musser, G. G. and M. D. Carleton. 2005. Superfamily Muroidea. pp. 894–1531 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
  • Tofts, Russell. Multimammate Mice. Retrieved July 14, 2009.

External links[edit]