Cape spiny mouse

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Cape spiny mouse
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Genus: Acomys
Species: A. subspinosus
Binomial name
Acomys subspinosus
(Waterhouse, 1838)

The cape spiny mouse (Acomys subspinosus) is a murid rodent found in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. They have a dorsal covering of spiny hairs with dark grey-brown coloration, and a white underbelly. The Cape Spiny Mouse has large eyes and ears and a scaly, nearly bald tail that is brittle and can break off readily either as a whole or in part if it is caught. Their total length is 17 cm, with an 8 cm tail, and they typically weigh 22g.


This species is largely endemic to the Western Cape Province of South Africa; its range just extends into the Eastern and Northern Cape Provinces. The extent of occurrence is greater than 20,000 km², and can occur up to about 1,000m above sea level.


Its natural habitats are Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation and rocky areas. They are terrestrial and nocturnal, but can be active in early morning and late afternoon in shadows cast by rocks.


Cape spiny mice may live singly or in small groups. They feed almost exclusively on seeds, especially ant dispersed seeds of Restionaceae and Proteaceae with elaiosomes. The remainder of the diet consists of green plant material and insects, millipedes, and snails. In addition, the cape spiny mouse feed extensively on P. humiflora flower.


Rather than having one set breeding season, cape spiny mice are opportunistic breeders, only reproducing when they have sufficient food sources. They produce litters of 2-5 pups.


Cape spiny mouse. contributes significantly. to the pollination of P. humiflora, and, in turn, gains the food resources that enable winter breeding. In addition to being a potential pollinator for a number of plant species, it also has a role in seed predation and hoarding in the fynbos , potentially contributing to the evolution of myrmecochory as a mechanism to evade rodent seed predation.


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African Zoology, 37(1)

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