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.