Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Mammals » Dassie Rat: Petromuridae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DASSIE RATS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

Dassie Rat: Petromuridae - Physical Characteristics

feet tail hairs short

Dassie rats look a lot like squirrels. Soft and silky hair covers their bodies, with the exception of the undersides, which are yellow and hairless. The hairs are joined together in groups of three or five. Their fur color is usually brown, gray, or buff, or a combination of those colors. These colors help them blend into the surrounding rocks in their habitat. This sort of camouflage helps keep birds from spotting them from above.

Dassie rats have blunt heads; big eyes; short, black, round ears; and long, black vibrissae, stiff hairs that can be found near the nostrils or other parts of the face in many mammals. The tail is shorter than the head and body length, and long hairs cover the end part of their tails. Their tails have soft joints, which allow the tail to break off at the base if a predator, animal that hunts it for food, grabs a dassie rat by the tail. The dassie rat can simply release its tail and escape, relatively unharmed.

Dassie rats' front feet have four toes with claws. The thumbs on the front feet are short. Their hind feet have five toes with short, curved claws. The hind feet also have thicker hairs that look like tiny combs and are probably used for grooming. The soles of their feet have round, naked pads that help them to move around in the rocky areas where they live. Their feet are narrow. The head and body length of males is 10.9 to 14.0 inches (27.9 to 36.0 centimeters) and the head and body length of females is 9.9 to 14.0 inches (25.3 to 35.8 centimeters). Males weigh 6.0 to 7.4 ounces (170 to 210 grams) while females weigh 8.8 to 9.2 ounces (250 to 261 grams). Their flexible ribs and flat skulls help them to flatten their bodies, and squeeze into small areas when necessary. This can be helpful when escaping from predators. The nipples on females are on their sides, rather on their undersides, so if they are squeezed into a small space, the young can still feed.


Dassie Rat: Petromuridae - Habitat [next]

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