A Gambian pouched rat (Cricetomys gambianus) trained to detect mines
Cricetomys or giant pouched rats, is a genus of large. Their head and body lengths range from 25–45 cm (9–18 in) with scaly tails ranging from 36–46 cm (14–18 in). They weigh between 1.0 and 1.5 kg.
Giant pouched rats are only distantly related to the true rats, though they were until recently placed in the family Muridae. Recent molecular studies however, place them in the family Nesomyidae, part of an ancient radiation of African and Malagasy muroids. The name "pouched rat" refers to their large cheek pouches.
Females have been said to be capable of producing up to 10 litters yearly. Gestation is 27–36 days. One to five young are born at a time. Females have eight nipples.
The animals are nocturnal. They are omnivorous and feed on vegetation and small animals, especially insects. They have a particular taste for palm nuts. Like many related rodents that are hind gut fermenters, they are coprophagous, voiding soft fecal pellets of semi-digested food that they eat directly from the anus.
Southern Giant Pouched Rat (Thomas, 1904) (Cricetomys ansorgei) Emin's Pouched Rat (Wroughton, 1910) (Cricetomys emini) Gambian Pouched Rat (Waterhouse, 1840) (Cricetomys gambianus) Kivu Giant Pouched Rat (Lönnberg, 1917) (Cricetomys kivuensis)