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This page is for your information only.
We do not breed African Pouch Rats.

Click here for Pouch Rat pictures.

Scientific name - Cricetomys gambianus

WHAT IS AN AFRICAN GAMBIAN POUCH RAT? African Gambian Pouch rats, also known as the African giant pouch rat, resembles a hamster in having a storage pouch inside of each cheek. When the pouches are full it gives the pouch rat an absolutely adorable, yet comical face.
If you like rodents especially rats, they are sure to captivate your heart.
Pouch rats are HUGE - they are among the largest of the Murid rodents (Mice/Rats), reaching an amazing 13-17 inches from tip of nose to the base of the tail. They're tail being about the same length or longer. These rats can reach six pounds or more in weight. Is this big enough for you?
Their body colour ranges from shades of gray to brown, the belly being considerably paler and their feet are almost white. There are some pouch rats turning up spotted with white or with a white stripe running across their shoulders, but these are still very rare. The pouch rats have large ears (which lends to their comical appearance) that are covered in very fine hairs, giving them an almost hairless appearance. The first two thirds of the tail is dark gray with the final third (to the tip) is white to off white and covered with the same fine hairs as the ears.
The pouch rats homeland ranges from Senegal to Central Sudan and down to South Africa. These rats dwell in the forest and thickets. For shelter they often use natural crevices and holes, termite mounds, or hollow trees but when need be they can dig their own burrows.
In the wild pouch rats are generally nocturnal, but do forage during the day. When they forage during the day they behave almost blind, relying heavily on their keen noses and hearing to get around. In captivity they readily become used to their owners routine.

POUCH RATS AS PETS: Generally they are solitary and shy in the wild making them naturally non-aggressive on open ground, but they can be very protective of their den. In captivity they are very intelligent and have the ability to bond/show deep affection to their human companions. However do take into considerations that they are not a domestic animal, they are a captive bred exotic that has the ability to display some of its wild traits.
As already noted, pouch rats can become very protective of their territory. This can also happen with your pouch rat! If your pouch is given a box to sleep in, or the housing is too small he/she can become very aggressive and protective of the box and cage. Usually the pouch rat is just fine outside of the cage. We have found that if a bottle-fed baby has never been given a box and has an adequate size cage he rarely displays this trait. Unfortunately there are no steadfast rules with animals and a pouch rat may still exhibit this trait. If a pouch rat does become protective of his/her home you will have to respect the pouch rats territory. Dealing with a territorial rat requires a bit of patience and understanding that the pouch rat doesn't hate you, but that the pouch rat is instinctually protecting its den, not out for your blood.

Dealing with this problem:

NOTE: Due to the pouch rats natural solitary behavior in the wild you have to spend a regular amount of time with your pouch rat each day to maintain the bond between you and your pouch rat. If you don't spend time with your pouch rat it will probably become very solitary and it won't want to socialize with anyone including you!
Socializing: It is a good idea to socialize your pouch rat as much as possible, taking it to friends houses, car rides, introducing it to all types of people/animals and experiences. This socializing will help "bombproof" your pouch rat so that he/she will be more accepting of anything new that comes his/her way.
If unfavorable behavior does arise - such as nipping a firm NO or OUCH should be enough. Unfortunately this won't work when they are protecting their territory.

HOUSING: When it comes to housing for a single rat the largest ferret or cat cage will work only if they are able to get out on a daily basis. These guys love to run and jump. This size cage is not required right away, when they are first able to go to their new home a twenty five gallon aquarium will work fine for a short time just until they out grow it and are able to move up in cage size being at this time they are the size of a large domestic rat.
If you wish to keep two pouch rats together, care has to taken, due to their solitary nature in the wild. It is possible to keep two together, this is only advisable if they are two females that are litter mates. Males will fight to the death.

TOYS: One can also supply Pouch rats with a variety of toys to help keep them busy. Such as medium to large parrot toys, " Nylabone" dog toys, 100% cotton rope toys, a wheel ( which would have to be custom made - at least 17 inches), pieces of arbutus or manzanita wood for chewing.

DIET: The Pouch rat is an omnivore, their diet in the wild consists of insects, snails, nuts, seeds, and fruit. In captivity they are relatively easy to feed. A good parrot mix (remove chili peppers), which then can be supplemented with mixes nuts (no salt), dry dog food or Omnivore dry diet, rodent blocks, monkey biscuits, dried fruits and raisins. On a daily basis they require about half a cup of fresh fruit/vegetable matter. For treats one can offer cooked pasta, whole grain breads, cooked eggs, and even a little yogurt. Now remember because of their wonderful cheek pouches they can carry a large amount of food - so they do on the occasion empty out their food dishes only to store it someplace else. Fresh clean water daily is a must - one can also offer them a good rodent multi - vitamin to their water.

With lots of love, daily handling, good diet and care Pouch rats can live a long happy and healthy life.

Lifespan in captivity - average is 8 years but some have been known to live up to 10 years. Sexual maturity is 5 to 6 months. Males can be neutered.

Click here for Pouch Rat pictures.

This page is for your information only.
We do not breed African Pouch Rats.




© Petite Paws Exotics
Last updated February 2009