Chinese White-bellied Rat (Niviventer confucianus)

Taxonomic Notes:

This species is sometimes included in N. niviventer, but that allocation is not supported by present evidence (see Musser and Carleton 2005). Specimens reported from Hainan are actually N. tenaster, and those from Taiwan are N. culturatus, which in the past was treated as a subspecies of N. confucianus (Smith and Xie 2008). There exists considerable geographic variation between populations of N. confucianus but the significance of this is still difficult to determine (Smith and Xie 2008). Deng et al. (2000) recognized ten subspecies, but one of these (lotipes) represents N. tenaster and another, culturatus, is now recognized as a valid species (Musser and Carleton 2005). Wang (2003) recognized eight subspecies from China, but the status of these needs to be reassessed, and Musser and Carleton (2005) consider them synonyms.


A small long tailed white bellied rat with 2+2 mammae. The skull has relatively smaller bullae and shorter palate than Rattus rattus. The short palate figured as a percentage of total skull length is an illusory consequence of the nasal bones projecting far ahead of the incisors, whereas the palate extends aft of the molars in the subgenus Rattus (to give a long palate). A characteristic though rare louse Hoplopleura  sicita Polyplax pricie s also been found on this mammal. The 46 chromosomes are mostly telocentric but the smallest 6 are metacentric. In Thailand there are 3 species, this one, Chinese White-bellied Rat (Niviventer confucianus),Dark-tailed Tree Rat (Niviventer cremoriventer) and  Chestnut White-bellied Rat (Niviventer fulvescens) all are very closely related. Please see the other 2 species for more information

Range Description:

This species is widely distributed in China (but not on islands off the coast), extending to Northern Myanmar, Northwest Thailand (summit Doi Inthanon, Chiengmai Province), and extreme Northwest  Vietnam (summit Mount Fan Si Pan west of the Red River); it may also occur on summits of mountains in northern Lao PDR, although there is as yet no confirmed record (Musser and Carleton 2005). It has an elevational range of between 150-4,000 m asl (Corbet and Hill 1992).
Countries: Native:
China (Anhui, Beijing, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai, Shanxi, Sichuan, Tianjin, Tibet [or Xizang], Yunnan, Zhejiang); Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam


 Large museum collections suggest that this species is common in the highlands of Northern Myanmar and China (Musser 1981). In a survey by Wu et al. (1996) in Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve, Southern China this species was by far the most abundant in both primary and secondary forest. It is known from only a handful of specimens in Thailand and Viet Nam.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology:

 It occurs in montane mossy forest in Thailand, and is present in a wide range of habitats from forest to cultivated land in China (Corbet and Hill 1992). In China, the species is found in both primary and secondary forest, though it is about twice as common in primary forest (Wu et al. 1996).
Systems: Terrestrial

 Major Threat(s):

There are no major threats to this species.

 Conservation Actions:

 It is present in Doi Inthanon National Park in Thailand. In China, it is present in Xishuangbanna (Wu et al. 2006) and Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserves (Liu et al. 2005) and many other protected areas see CSIS (2008) for a complete list. Taxonomic revision of the subspecies is needed. In China, this species has been regionally Red Listed as Least Concern (Wang and Xie 2004).