Laotian Rock Rat

Laotian Rock Rat


Laonastes aenigmamus
Population size
400 g
26 cm

The Laotian rock rat, sometimes called the "rat-squirrel", is a species of rodent found in Laos. These animals look generally like rats, with thick, furred tails similar to a squirrel's, but limp. Their head is large, with round ears and a somewhat bulbous bridge of the nose, and very long whiskers. Their fur is dark slate grey, with a blackish tail. The belly is lighter, with a small, whitish area in the center. Their eyes are beady and black.


Laotian Rock rats are found in Khammouan Province and southern Bolikhamxai Province, Laos, and also in a small area of Minh Hóa District, western Quảng Bình Province, Vietnam. They live on hillsides in regions of sparsely vegetated karst limestone boulders.

Laotian Rock Rat habitat map



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Laotian rock rats are believed to be nocturnal creatures. They are quite docile and slow-moving over open ground. They walk with feet splayed outward in a gait described as duck-like. Although not ideal for mobility on open surfaces, this appears to be efficient when scrambling up and across large rocks. The sideways angle allows for greater surface area for their feet to find purchase on tilted or parallel surfaces.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Laotian rock rats are predominantly herbivores, eating leaves, grass, and seeds. They may eat insects, as well, but probably not in high abundance.

Mating Habits

1 young

Female Laotian rock rats are presumed to give birth to a single young.


Population threats

Laotian rock rats are not considered endangered at present. However, locally they suffer from habitat loss and are trapped by villagers for food.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Laotian rock rat total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The genus name of the Latian rock rat, Laonastes, means "inhabitant of stone". This is in reference to its presence around limestone rocks and also to the country where it was recently discovered. The specific epithet Aenigmamus means "enigma mouse" referring to its unknown position among the rodents.
  • It is suggested the Laotian rock rat belongs to the ancient fossil family, which was thought to have been extinct for 11 million years, since the late Miocene.
  • The skulls of Laotian rock rats are very distinctive and have features that separate them from all other living mammals.


1. Laotian Rock Rat on Wikipedia -
2. Laotian Rock Rat on The IUCN Red List site -

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