Red Spiny Rat (Maxomys surifer)


This handsome species of rat occurs in primary and mature secondary forest, and adjacent cleared or cultivated areas. It does not occur in heavily degraded habitats or in large-scale oil palm plantations. It is nocturnal and mainly terrestrial in habits. The species is known to be omnivorous, feeding on fallen fruits and other plant matter, as well as insects and other invertebrates. Reaching up to 21 cm in head-body length, the Red Spiny Rat can be identified by its intense orange-brown or red-brown dorsal fur, which contrasts with a pale yellowish to white belly. The demarcation between the dorsal and ventral fur is sharp. Short, stiff spines occur amongst both the dorsal and ventral fur. There is often an orange-brown collar under the neck. The tail is dark above and light below, and lacks significant fur. The snout is long and pointed, and the limbs short. The hind feet are long and slender.

Range Description:

This species is widespread throughout Southeast Asia including, Southern Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Southern and Southwestern Cambodia, throughout Vietnam (including Thom and Phu Qoc Islands off the south coast), extreme southern Yunnan, China, the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and many smaller islands (Musser and Carleton 2005). It is a lowland species that ranges from around sea level to 1,680 m asl (Mount Kinabalu) (Nor 2001).
Countries: Native:
Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China (Yunnan); Indonesia (Jawa, Kalimantan, Sumatera); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam


 The abundance of this species ranges from locally common to quite rare depending on the population surveyed (Aplin et al. 2006). Nor (2001) recorded 17 specimens between 700 and 1,200 m asl on Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, Sabah, Malaysia. Wells et al. (2004) recorded nine specimens in Kinabalu National Park.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology:

This is generally a lowland, exclusively terrestrial species. It is present in primary forest and forest edge habitats (including adjacent gardens (Marshall, 1977)), but does not appear to be present in secondary forest (Aplin et al. 2006). It lives in burrows (Smith and Xie 2008). It is a nocturnal species that feeds on roots, fallen fruit, insects, and small vertebrates (Smith and Xie 2008). Litter size ranges from 2-5 (Smith and Xie 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Major Threat(s):

There are no major threats to this widespread species.

Conservation Actions:

This species is present in many protected areas. Further studies are needed into the taxonomy of this species. In China, this species has been regionally Red Listed as Least Concern (Wang and Xie 2004).