Short-tailed bandicoot rat (Nesokia indica)

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Short-tailed bandicoot rat fact file

Short-tailed bandicoot rat description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderRodentia
FamilyMuridae
GenusNesokia (1)

The short-tailed bandicoot rat is one of the relatively few members of the large Murinae subfamily (the Old World mice and rats) that has become adapted to life in the desert (2). It has a short, dense but soft coat that is generally brown on the upperparts and lighter on the underside, sometimes with a white patch on the throat. It has a proportionally large head, big claws and large, rounded ears (2). The incisor teeth are stout and broad (3).

Size
Head-body length: 14 - 22 cm (2)
Tail length: 8 - 13 cm (2)
Weight
11 - 18 g (2)
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Short-tailed bandicoot rat biology

A nocturnal rodent (1), the short-tailed bandicoot rat spends most of its time in a burrow (2). The burrow, which comprises many tunnels and chambers, including one lined with vegetation for nesting (3), may reach depths of 60 centimetres (3) and be up to 9 metres long (2), covering an area of up to 120 square metres (4).

Typically, a single short-tailed bandicoot rat occupies each burrow (3), and the burrow provides the rat not only with shelter, but also with food. This is because it feeds on the underground parts of plants, a behaviour which can cause considerable crop damage in agricultural areas (4). The rat also causes damage to crop irrigation channels when its burrows extend into the channel banks, resulting in erosion (5). It only remains in a burrow complex while it contains sufficient food resources, after which is creates a new burrow, often adjacent to the previous one (6). This species also feeds on grass, grains, roots and cultivated fruit and vegetables (2) (3).

The short-tailed bandicoot rat is thought to reproduce throughout the year, producing a litter containing up to ten young, after a gestation period of around 17 days (1). It may fall prey to many different predators, including jackals, foxes, weasels, vipers, and birds of prey (4), from which it attempts to defend itself by biting fiercely (2).

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Short-tailed bandicoot rat range

The short-tailed bandicoot rat is a widespread species, occurring in Egypt, the Middle East (Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and possibly Turkey), Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and possibly Kazakhstan), Southern Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan) and China (1).

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Short-tailed bandicoot rat habitat

As well as being able to inhabit desert regions, the short-tailed bandicoot rat is also found in forest, scrubland, irrigated farm land, lake shores and canal banks (1) (2) (3). Within these habitats it is most often found in moist or damp areas, particularly alongside rivers or streams (3).

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Short-tailed bandicoot rat status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Short-tailed bandicoot rat threats

Where the short-tailed bandicoot rat inhabits cultivated areas, it may be at risk from the practice of crop rotation, which forces the rat to migrate to a new burrow (4), and from persecution. Local people may set traps for the rat, or smoke out or poor water into its burrows, in an attempt to protect their crops from the damage caused by the rat’s burrowing and feeding (4). Those populations in arid regions are at risk from habitat fragmentation, as the moist habitats develop a greater degree of isolation as the desert expands (1). However, overall, the species’ wide distribution and presumed large population means the short-tailed bandicoot rat is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction (1).

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Short-tailed bandicoot rat conservation

While no specific conservation measures are known to currently be in place for the short-tailed bandicoot rat, it is present in many protected areas across its distribution (1).

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Authentication

Checked (24/08/10) by Dr Francis Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham.
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~plzfg/

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Gestation
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Nocturnal
Active at night.
Subfamily
A taxonomic category below a family but above a genus; a sub-division of a family, containing genera which are different enough to warrant a minor separation from the rest of the family.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Hoath, R. (2003) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.
  3. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  4. Saulich, M.I. (2008) Nesokia indica. In: Afonin, A.N., Greene, S.L., Dzyubenko, N.I. and Frolov, A.N. (Eds.) Interactive Agricultural Ecological Atlas of Russia and Neighboring Countries. Economic Plants and their Diseases, Pests and Weeds. Available at:
    http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/content/pests/Nesokia_indica
  5. Maher Ali, A. (1978) The Changing Rodent Pest Fauna in Egypt. Proceedings of the 8th Vertebrate Pest Conference, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
  6. Hussaun, S.R. (2005) External structure of Nesokia indica burrows and their distribution in cropland and some non-cropland sites. Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Science, 42: 78-81.
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