Big-headed African mole-rat, Giant root-rat, Ethiopian African mole-rat, Giant mole-rat, Big-headed african mole rat, Ethiopian african mole rat, Giant mole rat
The big-headed African mole rat, (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus ), also known as the giant root-rat, Ethiopian African mole rat, or giant mole rat, is a rodent species in the family Spalacidae.It is endemic to Ethiopia's Bale Mountains. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, where it can reach densities of up to 2,600 individuals per square kilometre. It is threatened by habitat loss. Where the two species overlap, it is the main prey of the endangered Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis ).Show More
Big-headed African mole rats are highly distinctive in their large size, especially that of their heads. They are a mottled golden-brown in color, and are soft-furred.
While the other mole rats not only live but also feed underground, this species mostly forages above ground, by digging a new tunnel to a patch of herbage. It forages for about 20 minutes, until it has exhausted the supply of herbs about its tunnel, after which it blocks the tunnel it has built from the inside. It mostly eats grasses and herbs, with some individuals feeding mostly on roots. It retains its specialisations for digging tunnels because of the constant threat of predators, especially the Ethiopian wolf, which is specialised to a diet of mole rats. Ethiopian wolves catch mole rats by ambushing them after they have constructed a new foraging tunnel, chasing them into their tunnel, and then vigilantly waiting for them to resurface. These mole rats have evolved defenses other than flight, though, being very cautious and having incisors large enough to severely injure potential predators.Show Less
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
In zoology, a folivore is a herbivore that specializes in eating leaves. Mature leaves contain a high proportion of hard-to-digest cellulose, less ...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
A fossorial animal is one adapted to digging which lives primarily but not solely, underground. Some examples are badgers, naked mole-rats, clams, ...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Big-headed mole-rats are highly distinctive in their large size, especially that of their heads. They are a mottled golden-brown in color, and are soft-furred. These mole-rats have small claws and short, powerful legs. Their tails are long and usually covered in fur. Males in this species are noticeably larger than females.
Big-headed mole-rats are found in East Africa. They are endemic to Ethiopia's Bale Mountains. These animals inhabit subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland.
Big-headed mole-rats are solitary fossorial animals. They are very territorial. They construct underground burrows that consist of the nest which is lined with grasses, food stores, and latrines. While the other mole-rats not only live but also feed underground, Big-headed mole-rats mostly forage above ground, by digging a new tunnel to a patch of herbage. They forage for about 20 minutes until they have exhausted the supply of herbs about their tunnel. After that, they block the tunnel they have built from the inside. These mole-rats are active during the days and don't hibernate. They are adapted for digging tunnels because of the constant threat of predators, especially the Ethiopian wolf, which is specialised to a diet of mole-rats. Ethiopian wolves catch mole-rats by ambushing them after they have constructed a new foraging tunnel, chasing them into their tunnel, and then waiting for them to resurface. Thus mole-rats have evolved different defenses, other than fight, although, they are very cautious and have incisors large enough to severely injure potential predators.
Little is known about the mating system in Big-headed mole-rats. However, they are suggested to be polygynous as males and females meet only for mating. These animals breed year round, with the peak during the wet season. Females give birth to 1-4 young per litter, although 1-2 young are most common. The gestation period lasts 37-49 days. Females nurse their offspring for around 50 days. They stay with their mother for another month, even though they can eat solid food. Young Big-headed mole-rats become reproductively mature when they are 4-6 months old.
Big-headed mole-rats are threatened by habitat loss through overgrazing of their habitat by domestic livestock.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Big-headed mole-rat total population size. This animal is common only within its restricted range. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.
Big-headed mole-rats aerate and turn the soil in their environment due to their extensive tunneling work. These animals are also important consumers of different plant species, and they are the main prey for the endangered Ethiopian wolf in the areas where these two species overlap.