If you see a creature about as big as a cat with a naked tail
as long as its body evokes Splinter of Ninja Turtle fame, donít
be alarmed. The African giant pouched
rat (Cricetomys gambianus) is huge but friendly.
Weighing two to six pounds and ranging from ten to seventeen inches
long, these guys arenít official rats, but large rodents whose
name derives from their looks and their cheek pouches, used for
The giant pouched rats are harmless to humans, if not a bit startling
at first sight. They feed on various plants, small insects, and
other invertebrates. They have been witnessed also eating scraps
left for the Friendship Hotel cats...right along side of their
feline friends. (If you canít eat them, join them).
The rats are to be found roaming throughout the African continent
and reach sexual maturity within 5 to 7 months and can have up
to 4 litters every 9 months with 6 offspring per litter. They
weigh approximately 1 kg.
Their natural home is thick forest and sometimes termite mounds
however, with increasing urbanisation they have found richer pickings
around human refuse tips and family compounds. The Gambian Pouched
Rat is omnivorous with its natural preferred food being palm fruits
& kernels as well as a diet of insects, vegetation and snails.