East African mole-rat

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East African mole-rat
Neue Wirbelthiere zu der Fauna von Abyssinien gehörig (1835) Tachyoryctes splendens (cropped).png
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Spalacidae
Genus: Tachyoryctes
Species: T. splendens
Binomial name
Tachyoryctes splendens
(Rüppell, 1835)

The East African mole-rat (Tachyoryctes splendens) is a species of rodent in the family Spalacidae and is found in Ethiopia, Somalia[2] and other parts of East and Central Africa. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, dry savanna, high-altitude shrubland and grassland. It lives a solitary existence underground and produces a small litter of pups twice a year, in the two rainy seasons.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The East African mole-rat is native to East Africa and the eastern parts of Central Africa. Its range includes upland areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It is found at elevations of up to 3,300 metres (10,800 ft) in Ethiopia and up to 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in other parts of its range. It is an adaptable species and able to live in a range of habitats including savanna, moist tropical forest, agricultural land, pasture, coffee plantations and gardens.[1]


The East African mole-rat is a fossorial species and lives a solitary life in a network of underground burrows. Female mole-rats become sexually mature at about 120 days and the average time between successive litters is around 173 days. The average size of litters is about two.[3] The arrival of the young is synchronised with the middle of the rainy seasons which occur from April to July and again from November to December.[4] Sometimes areas where this mole-rat lives can become flooded. Tests have shown that when this happens, the East African mole-rat can swim for two minutes or more, walk overground for up to 80 metres (260 ft) at 7 metres (23 ft) per minute and dig a new burrow. The researchers hypothecated that flooding might encourage the animal to disperse to new areas and that the wet ground would make digging the new burrow easier.[5]


The East African mole-rat is common across most of its range and its population seems stable. It does not face any major threats and for these reasons, the IUCN lists it as being of "Least Concern" in its Red List of Threatened Species.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Schlitter, D.; Agwanda, B.; Corti, M. (2008-06-30). "Tachyoryctes splendens". IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  2. ^ Musser, G.G.; Carleton, M.D. (2005). "Superfamily Muroidea". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 925. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ Jarvis, Jennifer U. M. (1973). "The structure of a population of mole-rats, Tachyoryctes splendens, (Rodentia: Rhizomyidae)". Journal of Zoology. 171 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1973.tb07512.x. 
  4. ^ Katandukila, J. V.; Faulkes, C. G.; Chimimba, C. T.; Bennett, N. C. (2013). "Reproduction in the East African root rat (Tachyoryctes splendens; Rodentia: Spalacidae) from Tanzania: the importance of rainfall". Journal of Zoology. doi:10.1111/jzo.12067. 
  5. ^ Hickman, Graham C. (1983). "Burrows, surface movement, and swimming of Tachyoryctes splendens (Rodentia: Rhizomyidae) during flood conditions in Kenya". Journal of Zoology. 200 (1): 71–82. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1983.tb06109.x.