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 carrying food.
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.