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Gymnures and Hedgehogs: Erinaceidae

Malayan Moonrat (echinosorex Gymnura): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Malayan moonrats have long and narrow bodies, coarse hair, pointy snouts and long, almost naked tails giving them an appearance that resembles a Virginia opossum. They have mostly black fur toward the back and white fur toward the head, although they may have quite large, black patches on the head. Sometimes they are completely white. Malayan moonrats range from 10 to 18 inches (26 to 46 centimeters) in body length, plus a 6.5- to 12-inch (16.5- to 30-centimeter) tail. Adult weight varies from about 1 to 3 pounds (0.45 to 1.4 kilograms), but can sometimes reach 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms). Males are generally a bit smaller than females.

Malayan moonrats search at night for worms, insects, crabs, and other invertebrates found in moist areas. (© N. Smythe/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: Malayan moonrats are found on the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo.

Habitat: Moist forests, mangrove swamps, and wet farmlands are the typical habitats of Malayan moonrats. Scientists believe the animals spend at least part of their time in the water.

Diet: An animal of the night, Malayan moonrats eat worms, insects, crabs, and other invertebrates found in moist areas. They will also eat fruit, and occasionally frogs or fish.

Behavior and reproduction: When they are not looking for food at night, Malayan moonrats rest in hiding places among tree roots, inside hollow logs, or in other tight spaces. Adults live alone. They release strong odors to mark the edges of their territories and warn other moonrats to stay away with threatening hisses. They also release odors to ward off predators. When they are preparing to have young, they will make nests mostly from leaves. Females usually have two babies at a time, either once or twice a year. Scientists know little more about moonrat adults or young.

Malayan moonrats and people: Generally speaking, Malayan moonrats leave people alone, and people leave them alone.

Conservation status: Malayan moonrats are not threatened. ∎



McDonald, D. Collins Field Guide: Mammals of Britain and Europe. London: Harper Collins, 1993.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World Online. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1995. http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/insectivora/insectivora.erinaceidae.echinosorex.html (accessed on July 1, 2004).

Reeve, N. Hedgehogs. London: Poyser Natural History, 1994.

Web sites:

"European hedgehog." BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/193.shtml (accessed on July 1, 2004).

"European Hedgehog." Boreal Forests of the World Mammal Species. http://www.borealforest.org/world/mammals/hedgehog.htm (accessed on July 1, 2004).

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species—Species Information. http://www.redlist.org (accessed on July 1, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsGymnures and Hedgehogs: Erinaceidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Gymnures, Hedgehogs, And People, Conservation Status, Western European Hedgehog (erinaceus Europaeus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET