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Lophiomys imhausi

Lophiomys imhausi, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Ordo: Rodentia
Subordo: Myomorpha
Superfamilia: Muroidea
Familia: Muridae
Subfamilia: Lophiomyinae
Genus Lophiomys
Species: Lophiomys imhausi


Lophiomys imhausi Milne-Edwards, 1867

Vernacular names

Deutsch: Mähnenratte
English: Maned Rat , Crested Rat


* Lophiomys imhausi on Mammal Species of the World.
Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 2 Volume Set edited by Don E. Wilson, DeeAnn M. Reeder

The Maned Rat (or Crested Rat, as it is sometimes known) (Lophiomys imhausi), is a nocturnal, long-haired and bushy-tailed East African rodent that superficially resembles a porcupine.


The Maned Rat's body can grow up to 14 inches (360 mm) long, or 21 inches (530 mm) from head to tail. The coat consists of long, silver and black-tipped guard hairs over a dense, woolly, grey and white undercoat, with the face and limbs having short, black fur. A mane of longer, coarser black-and-white banded hairs extends from the top of the animal's head to just beyond the base of the tail. This mane is bordered by a broad, white-bordered strip of hairs covering an area of glandular skin.

When the animal is threatened or excited, the mane erects and this strip parts, exposing the glandular area. The hairs in this area are, at the tips, like ordinary hair, but are otherwise spongy, fibrous, and absorbent. The rat is known to deliberately smear these hairs with poison from the bark of the Acokanthera schimperi, which it chews on, thus creating a defense mechanism that can sicken or even kill predators who attempt to bite it.[1]

Lophiomys differs from typical Muridae in having the temporal fossa roofed over a thin plate of bone, rudimentary clavicles, and an opposable hallux. On these grounds it has been made the type of a family; its dentition, however, is typical Cricetine.[2]


Its diet in the wild consists largely of leaves, fruit, and other plant material, but has been known to eat meat, cereals, root vegetables, and insects in captivity. Food is eaten by sitting on its haunches and using its forepaws to bring food items to its mouth.


The habitat of the maned rat ranges from nearly sea level, in Ethiopia and Somalia, to more typically the drier, highland forests and woodlands of Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. Fossil remains have been found as far north as Israel, however. They are often found in rocky areas or in hollow tree trunks and holes along the tops of ravines, and have also been found nesting among rocks on cliff-faces.


^ Welsh, Jennifer (2 August 2011). "Giant Rat Kills Predators with Poisonous Hair". LiveScience. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
^ Flower, William Henry; Lydekker, Richard (1891). An Introduction to the Study of Mammals Living and Extinct. A. and C. Black.


Schlitter & Agwanda (2004). Lophiomys imhausi. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
Jansa, S. A. and M. Weksler. 2004. Phylogeny of muroid rodents: relationships within and among major lineages as determined by IRBP gene sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 31:256-276.
Kingdon, Jonathan. East African Mammals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974. 519-526.
Jonathan Kingdon, Bernard Agwanda, Margaret Kinnaird, Timothy O'Brien, Christopher Holland, Tom Gheysens, Maxime Boulet-Audet and Fritz Vollrath 2011 A poisonous surprise under the coat of the African crested rat Proc. R. Soc. B doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.1169

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