The Greater cane rat is a species of African rodent. It has rounded ears, a short nose, and coarse bristly hair. Its forefeet are smaller than its hind feet and each has three toes. In Ghana, Nigeria, and other regions of West Africa, Greater cane rats are often called grasscutters for their habit to cut grass with the upper incisors which also creates a distinct tooth-chattering sound.
Greater cane rats are found in Sub-Saharan Africa ranging from Senegal and into eastern South Africa. They live by reed-beds, riverbanks, and near marshes and are also common in plantations and agricultural areas.
Greater cane rats are social animals. They live in small groups led by a single male. They are nocturnal and make nests from grasses or burrow underground. Greater cane rats are rarely found far from water and they are excellent swimmers and divers. If frightened, they either stomp their hind feet and grunt or run towards the water.
Greater cane rats usually breed during the wet season. Females produce two litters per year consisting of 4 young. The gestation period typically lasts around 152 days. The pups are born well developed and become reproductively mature at about one year of age.
There are no major threats to Greater cane rats at present. However, as humans expanded into their native habitats, the cane rats likewise expanded from their native reeds into the plantations, particularly the sugar cane plantations from which they derive their name. Their tendency to adopt plantations as habitat, where they feed on agricultural crops, often earns them the reputation of agricultural pest. Local people also use cane rats as a food source (as bushmeat), considering the meat a delicacy.
According to IUCN, the Greater cane rat is common throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.