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Temporal range: Late Pliocene to Recent
African Soft Furred Rat (Mastomys coucha)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Subfamily: Murinae
Genus: Mastomys
Thomas, 1915

Mastomys awashensis
Mastomys coucha
Mastomys erythroleucus
Mastomys huberti
Mastomys kollmannspergeri
Mastomys natalensis
Mastomys pernanus
Mastomys shortridgei

Mastomys is a genus of rodent in the family Muridae endemic to Africa. It contains these species:

The multimammate mice (also called multimammate rats, african soft-furred rats, natal-rats or african common rats) are found in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Their head-body length is between 10 and 17 cm, their tail length is between 8 and 15 cm and their weight varies between 20 and 80 grams, depending on the species. Domesticated multimammate mice are heavier on average, weighting from 60 to 160 Grams. Males are much larger and heavier than females. They weight between 80 and 160 Grams. Females are smaller and lighter build, normally weighting between 60 and 110 grams. Males also have a much more shaggy fur and a bull neck, that is starting to grow at the age of six month (African soft furred rats are fully grown at the age of 8 months). Females have a more silky fur and a more petite build. Some African soft furred rats are very tame and cuddly, while others are very skittish and sometimes bite when handled. Males on average are more relaxed and cuddly than females. Mastomys are omnivorous and can live up to four years. A female can have as many as 12 litters a year.

Systematically they were long placed in the genus Rattus (referred to as Rattus natalensis). Later they were placed in the genus Mus (referred to as Mus natalensis) and then they were placed in the genus Praomys. Today molecular research has discovered that they are a genus of their own (Mastomys) and that they are closely related to Praomys. They are more closely related to Mus than to Rattus. All the domesticated multimammate mice are hybrids between the natal multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis) and the Southern multimammate mouse (Mastomys coucha).


  • 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.