Data submitted from Dave Morgan - Transvaal Snake Park (South Africa)

They are listed in the SA Red Data Book as "vulnerable" primarily because they extralimitally occur in SA in parts of the Limpopo Valley and Zoutpansberg Mountains. Indeed, in this area they are considered something of a pest as the Zoutpansberg is the main Macadamia Nut farming area in this country. The cheek pouches of the species allow them to gather up several kilograms of nuts per night for storage underground. Not a pastime likely to put them into too much favor with the average nut farmer.

Several years ago - unfortunately I no longer have the reference - there was an interesting article written in the "African Wildlife Magazine" on the species and it's distribution in SA. The suggestion was made in this article that the species would be a possible consideration for farming as an alternative meat source. As I am sure you are already aware, pouched rats are regarded as a form of "bush meat' in southern, central and west Africa. The most comprehensive information I have to hand on the species is to be found in Reay Smithers', Land Mammals of southern Africa, recently revised and updated by John Skinner of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria. As a child in Malawi, I used to keep pouched rats myself as pets. I found them to particularly prone to a stress-related condition akin to psychotic- feather plucking in parrots - certain WC individuals that did not settle would chew the tips of their own tails, and continually chew until only half their tail was left. Individuals like this I would release.

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