White-tailed rat

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For Brachytarsomys albicauda, see White-tailed Antsangy.
White-tailed rat
Temporal range: Early Pliocene - Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Superfamily: Muroidea
Family: Nesomyidae
Subfamily: Mystromyinae
Vorontsov, 1966
Genus: Mystromys
Wagner, 1841
Species: M. albicaudatus
Binomial name
Mystromys albicaudatus
(Smith, 1834)

Brachytarsomys albicauda

The white-tailed rat (Mystromys albicaudatus) also known as the white-tailed mouse, is the only member of the subfamily Mystromyinae in the family Nesomyidae. This species is sometimes placed in the subfamily Cricetinae due to similarities in appearance between the white-tailed rat and hamsters, but molecular phylogenetic studies have confirmed that the two groups are not closely related. The subfamily Mystromyinae is sometimes placed within the family Muridae along with all other subfamilies of muroids.

The white-tailed rat is restricted to savannas and grasslands of South Africa and Swaziland. They tend to inhabit burrows of meerkats and cracks in the soil during the day and venture out at night. They eat vegetable matter such as seeds and have been known to take insects. Unlike hamsters, white-tailed rats do not have cheek pouches.


  • Coetzee & Monadjem (2004). Mystromys albicaudatus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 6 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is endangered
  • Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London.
  • Nowak, R. M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 2. Johns Hopkins University Press, London.
  • Steppan, S. J., R. A. Adkins, and J. Anderson. 2004. Phylogeny and divergence date estimates of rapid radiations in muroid rodents based on multiple nuclear genes. Systematic Biology, 53:533-553.