Black-footed tree-rat

Australian Geographic - - Your Society -

Me­sem­bri­omys gouldii M: 251-308mm F: 251-290mm

AUS­TRALIA HAS tree-rats in the sort of niche squir­rels oc­cupy in the North­ern Hemi­sphere.

Weigh­ing up to 830g, the black-footed tree-rat is the largest of them. It is mostly ar­bo­real and builds dens usu­ally in tree hol­lows, but some­times also in pan­danus crowns and build­ings, emit­ting grum­bling and growl­ing threats if its home is ap­proached.

At night this tree-rat has been known to roam up to half a kilo­me­tre away from its home den for­ag­ing for nuts, fruits and flow­ers. It also eats ter­mites and other in­sects and even fresh­wa­ter mus­sels.

Although in­tro­duced rats can have up to 10 young in a lit­ter, black-footed tree-rats only have 1–3 off­spring at a time. These cling tightly to their mother’s teats as she scam­pers about, run­ning with her or sub­mit­ting to be­ing dragged along.

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