Red Rock Rat - Biology and Behaviour

Biology and Behaviour

Red rock rats are nocturnal and omnivorous, but feed mainly on plant matter, such as seeds, fruit, green leaves, and starchy roots. They shelter through the day in cup-like nests constructed in burrows, rock crevices, or termite mounds. In the wild, they appear territorial, reacting aggressively to intruders of their own species, but they are apparently able to tolerate each other after some time in captivity, establishing a stable dominance hierarchy.

Within any given area, red rock rats are usually present in relatively low numbers, but their population turns over rapidly, increasing rapidly during the wet season, with population densities reaching up to 6 per hectare (2.4 per acre), then crashing to 0.2 per hectare (0.081 per acre) or less in the hot, dry, season.

In the wild, they breed during the rainy season, typically between October and January, although they are capable of breeding at any time of year in captivity. Gestation lasts 29 days, and results in the birth of between one and five, but typically three, young. The young are initially blind and helpless, with thin black fur over most of the body, and naked undersides. The teeth are already erupted at birth, and the eyes open after ten to fourteen days. Newborn young weigh only around 5 grams (0.18 oz), and measure 4 centimetres (1.6 in) in head-body length, but they grow rapidly, being weaned between 24 and 33 days, by which time they have already attained the adult coat and general appearance.

The young attain the full adult dimensions at around seven weeks, although they may still be somewhat lighter than fully grown adults at this point. They reach sexual maturity at around 82 days, but may not give birth to their first litter for up to six months.

Read more about this topic:  Red Rock Rat

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