The moonrat is a fairly small, primarily carnivorous animal that, despite its name, is not closely related to rats or other rodents. It has a distinct pungent odor with strong ammonia content, different from the musky smell of carnivores. The moonrat has two subspecies that differ in their coloration. One has a white or grey-white head and frontal half of the body; the rest of the body is mainly black. The other subspecies is generally white, with a sparse scattering of black hairs; it appears totally white from a distance.
Moonrats are found in southeast Asia and occur in southern Myanmar, Peninsular Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, and Sumatra. They live in moist forests including mangroves and swamp forests and may also be found in gardens and plantations.
Moonrats are nocturnal and terrestrial animals that prefer moist areas and often enter the water. During the day they usually rest under logs, roots, or in abandoned burrows of other animals. Monnrats live alone and are very territorial. They release strong odors with a strong ammonia content to mark the edges of their territories and warn other moonrats to stay away with threatening hisses also to ward off predators.
Moonrats are carnivores and eat a wide range of worms, insects, crabs, and other invertebrates found in moist areas. They will also eat fruit, and occasionally frogs or fish.
Moonrats are able to breed throughout the year. When they are preparing to have young, they will make nests mostly from leaves. The gestation period lasts 35-40 days and females usually have 2 babies at one time.
The main threat to the moonrat is deforestation activities due to human development for agriculture, plantation, and commercial logging. Moreover, other demands from Penan in Borneo for food and traditional medicine also contribute to decreasing numbers of moonrats in Borneo.
According to IUCN, the moonrat is locally 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.