Greater bandicoot rat
Binomial name: Bandicota indica, Johann Matthäus Bechstein, 1800
The greater bandicoot rat (Bandicota indica) is a species of rodent in the family Muridaefound in China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
It can grow to about 27–29 cm without including the tail which tail can grow to 28 cm.
In Sri Lanka, the bandicoot rat is known as maha uru-meeya - මහ ඌරු මීයා" in Sinhala language, the meaning of which directly translates to "pig-rat".
The greater bandicoot rat has a dark gray-brown upper parts with a profusion of long, black hairs. Sides are gray with a few long, black hairs. Short, light gray fur occurs on the ventral surfaces. It has a dark and naked, scaly tail, and dark feet with light-colored claws. The young are much lighter in colour.
A female has between 8 and 10 litters. Young (8–14 per litter) are born blind and naked. Young reach sexual maturity around 50 to 60 days after birth. The lifespan of adults is around a year.
Large, aggressive bandicoot rats erect their guard hairs on their backs and emit grunts when disturbed. If caged with other bandicoots, it is likely to fight to death within a few hours. Usually, they occupy the outskirts of human dwellings such as compounds and gardens and are commonly found near garbage bins. Their burrowing habits cause great damage to grounds and flooring, as they can also tunnel through brick and masonry. Their characteristic large burrows give away their presence. They are not fastidious eaters, feeding on household refuse, grain, and vegetables, and are very serious pests in poultry farms. They are also a carrier for many diseases.
Parasites of Bandicota indica include:
- Schistosoma spindale
- Angiostrongylus cantonensis
- Bovine schistosomiasis.
Impact on public health
The greater bandicoot rat is an important vector of rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis that is widespread in Southeast Asia. The typical symptoms of angiostrongyliasis disease, which is caused by the third-stage larvae, resemble meningitis. Both humans and rodents can act as the primary host for the lungworm.
In Myanmar, the greater bandicoot rat was known to act as a vector for murine typhus.
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- Bandicota indica
Least Concern (IUCN3.1)