Tome's spiny rat

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Tome's spiny-rat[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Echimyidae
Subfamily: Echimyinae
Tribe: Myocastorini
Genus: Proechimys
P. semispinosus
Binomial name
Proechimys semispinosus
(Tomes, 1860)

P. s. burrus Bangs, 1901
P. s. calidior Thomas, 1911
P. s. centralis (Thomas, 1896)
P. s. colombianus Thomas, 1914
P. s. goldmani Bole, 1937
P. s. ignotus Kellogg, 1946
P. s. panamensis Thomas, 1900
P. s. rosa Thomas, 1900
P. s. rubellus Hollister, 1914
P. s. semispinosus (Tomes, 1860)

Proechimys semispinosus distribution (gray).png

P. gorgonae Bangs, 1905

Tome's spiny rat (Proechimys semispinosus), also known as Tomes' spiny rat[3] or the Central American spiny rat, is a species of spiny rat distributed from Honduras to Ecuador. The IUCN has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".


Tome's spiny rat is a large rat with a head-and-body length of between 220 and 280 mm (8.7 and 11.0 in) and a tail length of between 175 and 192 mm (6.9 and 7.6 in). The head is long and slender, with prominent eyes and narrow erect ears. At night, the eyes reflect a reddish eyeshine. The feet are long with strong nails. The pelage is sleek with spines mixed in with the dorsal fur, though these are not very obvious in the field. The upper parts are reddish-brown while the underparts are white. The tail is almost hairless and is reddish-brown above and white below. About 20% of animals encountered have no tail. This rat could be confused with the armored rat (Hoplomys gymnurus) which is much the same size, but the armored rat has a longer snout and smaller eyes, which are less reflective at night. Other terrestrial rats are considerably smaller and mostly have tails that are longer than their head-and-body lengths.[3]

Its karyotype has 2n = 30 and FN = 50-54.[1]


The range of Tome's spiny rat extends from southeastern Honduras to southwestern Ecuador and possibly to northern Peru. It generally keeps below 800 m (2,620 ft) but in Ecuador may be found a little higher. It is a common species in evergreen and deciduous forest, favouring riparian corridors and low-lying areas. It is a tolerant and adaptable species, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".[2]


Tome's spiny rat is a nocturnal, mainly ground-dwelling rat. During the day it may hide in a burrow or under a fallen tree, in a hollow log or in dense vegetation. At night it moves slowly and often sits stationary beside a tree buttress or log. It may freeze if caught in the open. It feeds on fruits and seeds, fungi, plant material and insects, carrying larger objects to a safe place before consuming them. The females can breed four times a year, producing litters of up to five precocial young.[3] The reproductive rate seems to be limited by the availability of food.[4] On a group of small islands in Panama, each of which had its own range of tree species which fruited at different seasons, there were few births on each islet at times of fruit shortage and many at times of fruit abundance; the seasonal effects were even more marked when the spiny rat was the only frugivorous mammal on the island.[4]


Morphological characters and mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA sequences showed that P. semispinosus belongs to the so-called semispinosus group of Proechimys species, and shares closer phylogenetic affinities with the other member of this clade: P. oconnelli.[5][6][7]

Species-level cladogram of the genus Proechimys.

  Proechimys simonsi (Simon's spiny rat)

  group semispinosus  

  Proechimys semispinosus (Tome's spiny rat)

  Proechimys gorgonae

  Proechimys oconnelli (O'Connell's spiny rat)

  group longicaudatus  

  Proechimys longicaudatus (Long-tailed spiny rat)

  Proechimys brevicauda (Short-tailed spiny rat)

  Proechimys gularis

  Proechimys cuvieri (Cuvier's spiny rat)

  group guyannensis  

  Proechimys guyannensis (Guyenne spiny rat)

  Proechimys roberti (Roberto's spiny rat)

  Proechimys oris

  Proechimys boimensis

  Proechimys echinothrix (Stiff-spine spiny rat)

  group trinitatus  

  Proechimys trinitatus (Trinidad spiny rat)

  Proechimys mincae (Minca spiny rat)

  Proechimys guairae (Guaira spiny rat)

  Proechimys poliopus (Gray-footed spiny rat)

  Proechimys magdalenae (Magdalena spiny rat)

  Proechimys chrysaeolus (Boyacá spiny rat)

  Proechimys urichi (Sucre spiny rat)

  Proechimys hoplomyoides (Guyanan spiny rat)

  Proechimys canicollis (Colombian spiny rat)

  Proechimys decumanus (Pacific spiny rat)

  group goeldii  

  Proechimys steerei (Steere's spiny rat)

  Proechimys quadruplicatus (Napo spiny rat)

  Proechimys amphichoricus

  Proechimys goeldii (Goeldi's spiny rat)

  Proechimys hyleae

  group gardneri  

  Proechimys gardneri (Gardner's spiny rat)

  Proechimys pattoni (Patton's spiny rat)

  Proechimys kulinae (Kulina spiny rat)


  Hoplomys gymnurus

The cladogram has been reconstructed from morphological characters and mitochondrial DNA (cytochrome b) sequences.[5][6][8][7]


Tome's spiny rat can serve as a reservoir species for the trypanosomes that are responsible for the disease leishmaniasis, which is spread by sandflies and affects humans. The rat can be infected and harbour the parasite without showing clinical signs of the disease.[9]


  1. ^ a b Woods, C.A.; Kilpatrick, C.W. (2005). "Species Proechimys semispinosus". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 1588. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b c Gómez-Laverde, M.; Aguilera, M.; Boada, C.; Timm, R. (2008). "Proechimys semispinosus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Reid, Fiona (2009). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico. OUP USA. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-19-534322-9.
  4. ^ a b Leigh, Egbert Giles (1999). Tropical Forest Ecology: A View from Barro Colorado Island. Oxford University Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-19-509603-3.
  5. ^ a b Patton, James L. (1987). "Species groups of spiny rats, genus Proechimys (Rodentia: Echimyidae)". Fieldiana: Zoology, Studies in neotropical mammalogy: essays in honor of Philip Hershkovitz. 39: 305–345. ISSN 0015-0754.
  6. ^ a b Da Silva, Maria Nazareth F. (1998). "Four New species of spiny rats of the genus Proechimys (Rodentia : Echimyidae) from the Western Amazon of Brazil". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 111: 436–471. ISSN 0006-324X.
  7. ^ a b Patton, James L.; Leite, Rafael N. (2015-03-09). "Genus Proechimys J. A. Allen, 1899". In Patton, James L.; Pardiñas, Ulyses F. J.; D’Elía, Guillermo (eds.). Mammals of South America, Volume 2: Rodents. University of Chicago Press. pp. 950–989. ISBN 9780226169606.
  8. ^ Patton, James L.; Da Silva, Maria Nazareth F.; Malcolm, Jay R. (2000-01-01). "Mammals of the Rio Juruá and the evolutionary and ecological diversification of Amazonia". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History: 1–306. doi:10.1206/0003-0090(2000)2442.0.CO;2. ISSN 0003-0090.
  9. ^ Travi, B.L.; Arteaga, L.T.; Leon, A.P.; Adler. G.H. (2002). "Susceptibility of spiny rats (Proechimys semispinosus) to Leishmania (Viannia) panamensis and Leishmania (Leishmania) chagasi". Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. 97 (6): 887–892. doi:10.1590/S0074-02762002000600025. PMID 12386716.