Long-tailed Giant Rat (Leopoldamys sabanus)


Size. HB: 231; T353; HF: 49; E 30; W 343 g

This large nocturnal murid species lives semi-arboreal in tropical forested habitats and reaches an average body mass of 368 g feeding on plant material and arthropods. A slender sleek, buff, brown, giant rat, with a very long tail which is distinctively patterned and black and white, with the black extending continually, or sometimes in patches, along the upper surfaces except for their dorsal third, which is white all round


 This species is present in North Eastern South Asia, and is widespread in Southeast Asia. In South Asia, it has been reported from only two locations, one each from Bangladesh (exact location unknown) and India (Gandhigram in Changlang district, Arunachal Pradesh) at about 300 m elevation (Molur et al. 2005). In Southeast Asia, the species has been recorded from Thailand, Northern Vietnam, Lao PDR, Southern and South-Western Cambodia, Southern Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, and smaller islands off the Sunda Shelf [except Bali]) and the island of Borneo (Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia) (Musser and Carleton, 2005). It can be found up to 3,100 m asl on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.
Countries: Native:
Bangladesh; Cambodia; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Thailand; Vietnam


This is generally a common species over most of its range. Md Nor et al. (2001) recorded 103 specimens between 500 and 1,350 m on Mount Nuang, Hulu Langat, Selangor, Malaysia, making it by far the most abundant species found during the survey.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology:

This species is generally found in lowland forest habitats (infrequently in montane habitats), and probably at lower altitudes than L. edwardsi (Corbet and Hill 1992). It is similar to L. edwardsi in ecology, being semi-arboreal (Gorog et al. 2004), and foraging on the ground as well as in the canopy (Wells et al. 2004). The diet consists of insects, fruit, and other vegetable matter (as well as snails) (Lim, 1970). In South Asia, it is a nocturnal and subterranean species, occurs in tropical, subtropical, wet montane temperate forests (Molur et al. 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial

 Major Threat(s):

In Southeast Asia, There are no major threats, although it may be susceptible to forest loss in some parts of its range. It is also hunted, and is one of the most common murids in markets in Lao PDR. In South Asia, the species could be affected by habitat loss and degradation due to shifting agriculture, small-scale logging and harvest for local consumption (Molur et al. 2005).

 Conservation Actions:

 This species is found in several protected areas across its range. There is a need for further research to elucidate the taxonomic status of this species complex. It is listed in the Schedule V (considered as vermin) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. In South Asia, it is not known from any of the protected areas and surveys and monitoring are recommended for this species (Molur et al. 2005).