Western Saharan spiny mouse

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Western Saharan spiny mouse
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Genus: Acomys
Species: A. airensis
Binomial name
Acomys airensis
Thomas & Hinton, 1921

The Western Saharan spiny mouse or Aïr spiny mouse (Acomys airensis) is a species of small, insectivorous rodent in the family Muridae[2] found arid regions of western Africa.


The Western Saharan spiny mouse is a small mouse with large ears, small eyes and a sharp snout. The fur on its back is tawny, each hair being grey at the base with a rufous sub-terminal band and a grey tip. It takes its name from a line of spiny hairs on the posterior part of the back, in older mice the spiny hairs spread forwards along the back towards the head. The ventral fur is white and separated clearly from the flanks. There are small white patches under the eye and behind the ears.[3]


The Western Saharan spiny mouse occurs north of the Niger River and has been recorded with certainty in southern Mauritania, Mali and Niger but which may also occur in Chad, Western Sahara and southernmost parts of Algeria.[1]


This species occurs in the Sahel savanna biogeographical zone where it is found in rocky areas but also in gardens and even within buildings but has also been found in a sandy area of the Inner Niger Delta. It has a maximum altitude at which it occurs of 1000m above sea level.[1][3]


The Western Saharan spiny mouse is terrestrial and mainly nocturnal, although some have been recorded as active during the day. It probably rests in cracks and crevices in rocks rather than burrowing. In southern Mauritania pregnant females have been found in August and October. Rather common and readily trapped in many areas. Barn owls appear to be major predators of these mice. The skin on the tail breaks off easily.[3] Like other members of the genus Acomys this mouse is omnivorous but mainly insectivorous.[1]


Formerly considered conspecific with Cairo spiny mouse Acomys cahirinus but there are differences in the number of chromosomes. It may be conspecific with Chudeau's spiny mouse Acomys chudeaui from Morocco and, if that is the case, then the correct species name is Acomys chudeaui as this name has precedence.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d "Acomys airensis". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2016-11-21. 
  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. pp. 894–1531. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ a b c d Jonathan Kingdon; David Happold; Thomas Butynski; Michael Hoffmann; Meredith Happold; Jan Kalina (2013). Mammals of Africa Volumes 1-6. A&C Black. pp. 219–220. ISBN 1408189968.