African Giant Pouched Rat


African giant pouched rat [Cricetomys gambianus]
The African giant pouched rat is often referred to as the Gambian pouched rat, but the species is separate to that of the southern pouched rat.


The African giant pouched rat measures up to 750 mm in length from nose to tail tip. The tail of the African giant pouched rat measures around 410 mm long and is completely bare with a white tip. Males weigh around 1,3 kg, while females weigh around 1,2 kgs. These rats are covered in buff-grey long fur with their underbelly being slightly lighter. Their fur colour is perfect for blending in with the natural environments of South Africa. Their faces are characterised by long dark whiskers and black eye-patches surrounding their eyes.

African Giant Pouched Rat Diet

The African giant pouched rat is an omnivore and feeds on a variety of insects, fruit, and vegetables that grow in South Africa. They are equipped with cheek pouches, which they use for storing and carrying food.

African Giant Pouched Rat Breeding

Breeding season for the African giant pouched rat occurs during summer in South Africa. The female gives birth to litters of two to four undeveloped pups, after a gestation period of only 27 days. After about six weeks, the young venture out of the nest to forage and eventually permanently leave their nest at the age of three months.

African Giant Pouched Rat Behavior

The African giant pouched rat lives in forest scrub and forested areas within South Africa that receive a rainfall over 80 mm per annum. These rats are nocturnal and solitary in nature and only meet for breeding purposes.

Where they are found

There a variety of species within the African giant pouched rat genus, with only Cricetomys ansorgei living in South Africa. They are restricted to the northern areas of the Northern Province, South Africa.

Field Notes

African giant pouched rats are also used to sniff out landmines in some African countries. They have proven to be less maintenance to keep and easier to train than dogs. The rats have proven to be a problem and can infest densely littered areas in rural South Africa. Giant African pouched rats are known to sometimes feed on humans while sleeping, as well as small babies!