Rattus praetor (Thomas, 1888)

Don E. Wilson, Russell A. Mittermeier & Thomas E. Lacher, Jr, 2017, Muridae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 7 Rodents II, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 536-884 : 846-847

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Rattus praetor


712. View Plate 55: Muridae

Large New Guinea Spiny Rat

Rattus praetor

French: Rat préteur / German: GroRe Neuguinea-Ratte / Spanish: Rata espinosa de Nueva Guinea grande

Other common names: Large New Guinea Rat, Large Spiny Rat

Taxonomy. Mus praetor Thomas, 1888 ,

Aola, Guadalcanal Island, Solomon Islands.

Rattus praetor is included in a clade of Re- cent New Guinea native species and seems to be close to R. steini (which makesit paraphyletic), R. mordax , and R. novaeguineae . As currently defined, R. praetor almost certainly represents multiple species, particularly because there are regularly caught specimens outside the current known distribution that are fairly similar to R.praetor . The newly described species R. nikenii was previously included in R. praetor . Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.


R. p. coenorum Thomas, 1922 —W & NNew Guinea; populations on Gebe I and Salawati I probably represent this taxon. View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head—body 157-245 mm, tail 144-181 mm, ear 18-20 mm, hindfoot 34-39 mm; weight 164-228 g. The Large New Guinea Spiny Rat is large, variable, and foul smelling, with harsh and spiny pelage. At higher elevations,it is smaller, richer dark brown, and less spiny. Dorsum is grizzled medium to dark brown, with rufous tipping on normal hairs and spines, generally being lighter on sides. Juvenile pelage is grayer and less spiny in both subspecies and can have white spots dorsally in subspecies coenorum. Venteris gray to yellowish ivory, sharply demarcated from dorsum; white spots are common throughout ventral pelage but most common pectorally. Feet are covered with medium to light brown hair dorsally. Ears are fairly short and medium brown; vibrissae are long and dark. Tail is ¢.80% of head—body length and unicolored medium brown. Skull is large and has prominent supraorbital-temporal and supraoccipital ridging. There are four pairs of mammae: two axillary and two inguinal. Diploid numberis 2n = 32.

Habitat. Degraded and secondary habitats, agricultural fields, gardens, and primary forests from sea level to elevations of ¢.2000 m.

Food and Feeding. Being rather commensal, Large New Guinea Spiny Rats eat sweet potatoes, other root crops, and various vegetables in gardens.

Breeding. Large New Guinea Spiny Rats reproduce year-round. Litters have 2-7 young (mean 4-5).

Activity patterns. Large New Guinea Spiny Rats are probably nocturnal and mostly terrestrial, only climbing when necessary during foraging. They are strong diggers and create burrow systems to shelter young.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. No information.

Status and Conservation. Classified as Least Concern on The IUCN Red List. The Large New Guinea Spiny Rat has a wide distribution and large overall population and is considered an agricultural pest to root crops and various vegetables.

Bibliography. Aplin, Brown et al. (2003), Aplin, Chesser & ten Have (2003), Dwyer (1984), Flannery (1990, 1995a, 1995b), Leary, Singadan, Menzies, Helgen et al. (2016b), Maryanto et al. (2010), Musser & Carleton (2005), Robins et al. (2014), Taylor et al. (1982), White et al. (2000), Wickler (1990).














Rattus praetor

Don E. Wilson, Russell A. Mittermeier & Thomas E. Lacher, Jr 2017

Mus praetor

Thomas 1888