1. Home
  2. Fun Animal Facts
  3. Multimammate Rat: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!


Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 09, 2021

Multimammate Rat: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Famous multimammate mice facts include that these mice have pinkish ears and sometimes white spots along with their whiskers.

The multimammate mouse is a common visitor and resident of many African villages. Due to its origin in Africa, its also given the local name of African soft furred rat. These mice are a species of rodent and belong to the family Muridae. These African soft fur rats are very different from the usual mice which are found in the houses or the allays. The multimammate mouse got its name because of its numeral mammary glands, which help to produce milk. While most mice have around five pairs of mammary glands, these species have around 8-12 pairs. This mouse is one of the many species of rodents that are nocturnal and are more active at night. In southern Africa this mouse is found at a large range of locations, they are also very common in many villages.

The multimammate rat in Nigeria was the key reason for the Lassa virus and many such medical conditions. The southern multimammate mouse and natal multimammate mouse are the two key species of this genus that cannot be distinguished and cannot be told apart. In order to tell these two species apart, help from various scientific instruments is taken into use. Although, the multimammate mouse (Mastomys) is believed to have three disjunct geographical populations. However, they have a relation with many other species of rodents. To learn more about such mammals, make sure to check out our articles on kangaroo rats and naked mole-rat facts.

Multimammate Rat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a multimammate rat?

An African soft furred rat (Mastomys natalensis) is a species of rodent and is a type of mouse. These rats share a natural relation with humans and can be commonly found around human settings and African villages.

What class of animal does a multimammate rat belong to?

The African soft furred (Mastomys natalensis) is belongs to the mammalian class. They come from the genus Mastomys and order Rodentia. They also served as reservoirs and hosts for the Lassa virus.

How many multimammate rats are there in the world?

These rodents are in abundance in Africa and their range is disturbed almost all across the globe. The range for this rodent can be mapped from southern Africa to eastern Africa, claiming the fact that their population is on an increasing spike. However, The exact population of the natal multimammate mouse is not known. These rats also serve as laboratory rats. This rat is quite useful for researchers as it helped on various serious issues such as stomach cancer, tumors and notably served as a reservoir for the Lassa virus.

Where does a multimammate rat live?

The multimammate rat population first began from the regions which are south of the Sahara. Regions such as Angola, Benin, and even the Central African Republic along with Ethiopia served as homes for this multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis). When mapping from Zambia to Zimbabwe, almost six different genetic groups of these mice can be found. Three genetic groups in eastern Africa alone.

What is a multimammate rat's habitat?

The natural habitat for these mice is moist lowland, as it helps them maintain a certain body temperature. Both dry savanna and moist savanna are excellent for their survival, along with subtropical and tropical dry forests. It's very common to find these African soft-furred Mastomys in the irrigated lad, near the rural gardens, and seasonally roaming around the agricultural land. These rats are endemic to Africa.

Who do multimammate rats live with?

There are various species of multimammate mouse spread all across Africa. However, these rats can be seen living with other rats as well and other species of mice such as black rats and sometimes they can even share their habitat with water rats.

How long does a multimammate rat live?

The life span of the multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis) is around two to three years.

How do they reproduce?

It is very easy for researchers or for families to have their multimammate mice breed. Generally, in a natural surrounding, they reproduce when their heat cycles are together. The multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis) can reach their sexual maturity within seven to ten weeks post-birth, females reach it at 8-10 weeks. The gestation time for females lasts for around 21-23 days. The female multimammate mouse makes nests from soft materials. The baby rats are born blind and are nursed by their mother. It's very easy for female rats to get pregnant just after giving birth, however, it's not safe and healthy.

What is their conservation status?

 The multimammate mice (Mastomys natalensis) are under the conservation status of Least Concern.

Multimammate Rat Fun Facts 

What do multimammate rats look like?

The multimammate mouse, Mastomys looks very much like the common domestic mouse. It has big black eyes and soft fur, tiny ears with pink hues, and pink hands and feet. The underparts of a natal African soft furred rats clearly reveal their multiple mammary glands, and these mice are around 3.93-4.7 in (10-12 cm) in size.

The multimammate mouse comes in various colors, and it pretty much depends on the region they are from.
*We've been unable to source an image of the multimammate mouse and have used an image of a common mouse instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of the multimammate mouse, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected].

How cute are they?

Multimammate mice (Mastomys natalensis) can look very appealing to people who love rats and pet them often. These rats are very common as pets in counties like Australia and America and Canada. The pet multimammate mouse tends to be heavier in weight compared to the one in their natural habitat.

How do they communicate?

Mice and other rodent species of a different family or a different genus order often live in families of territories. It's pretty common for these natal multimammate mice to have complex social structures as well. Vocal communications are also an important part of rodent families and mice. However, they are beyond the hearing range of a human. The natal multimammate mice also communicate effectively through their mouth, nose, and ears.

How big is a multimammate rat?

An African soft furred mouse is around 3.93-4.7 in (10-12 cm) in size and is almost three times smaller in size when compared with a pouched rat and a little bigger than a hamster.

How fast can a multimammate rat run?

Multimammate mice, Mastomys, can run very fast as any other mouse or rodent.

How much does a multimammate rat weigh?

The Mastomys natalensis, multimammate mice, who are kept as pet weighs way more than a natal multimammate mouse. However, multimammate mice (Mastomys natalensis) in their natural habitat weigh around 1.4-1.5 oz (40-42 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The Mastomys natalensis, multimammate mice, do not have different names for their males and females individuals. Both the sexes are addressed with similar names.

What would you call a baby multimammate rat?

There are different names with which people address baby rats. Depending on the region you can either call them pup or pinkies and kittens.

What do they eat?

The multimammate mice (Mastomys natalensis) are strictly omnivorous and they eat worms, fruits, and vegetables.

Are they dangerous?

No, in general, the multimammate mice (Mastomys natalensis) are not dangerous. However, they were the host for the Lassa virus and later also served as a reservoir for it. Nonetheless, contact with an infected natal multimammate mouse can be dangerous and be contaminated, and cause Lassa fever.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, some people consider an African soft furred to be a good pet, others keep them solely as a rodent to feed their snakes.

Did you know...

The multimammate mice are very interesting rodents, as they are strict omnivorous creatures but under severe conditions, they can also perform cannibalism. Because of this behavior they are often found near unfortunate locations and thrive during times of drought or fire.

How do rats get infected with Lassa fever?

Humans can get infected with Lassa fever from infected medical equipment or when the virus comes in contact with their blood. The multimammate mouse gets it through infected feces or urine. Any rat can get Lassa fever. Once a rat comes in contact with the saliva of the infected rat they will be infected with the virus. This multimammate mouse has caused outbreaks in countries like Benin, Ghana, and Liberia.

Are multimammate mice good for snakes?

This species of rodent is normally used for feeding snakes and other such reptiles. They are also taken as pets but in the majority of cases, they are used for feeding snakes.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other animals from our red bat facts and fruit bat facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable multimammate rat coloring pages.

Get The Kidadl Newsletter
1,000's of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.

In need of more inspiration?