Fun Dassie Rat Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 20, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 19, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Dassie rat facts are interesting to read
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

The dassie rat (Petromus typicus) is an African rat species. They can be found within their range in Namibia and Angola. This animal's status on the IUCN Red List is currently Least Concern and hence it is not an extinct rat. This rat is the only rat from the family of Petromuridae that is not extinct. Its habitat includes rocky hills or plateaus and its diet includes food like grass, seeds, twigs, and shrubs. These rats look for narrow crevices to live in. If not in crevices, then they can be seen under piles of big rocks or in narrow cracks in rocks to stay protected. They have flexible ribs that help them slide into these gaps when they are threatened by predators.

As mentioned, these rats are known to have flexible ribs to help them slide through any cracks in rocks. The physical appearance of these rats is quite adorable as they are so small. These mammals produce between two and three young rats in a year.

If you like these dassie rat facts, you might want to know about rice rats and Burmese rats too.

Dassie Rat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a dassie rat?

The dassie rat (Petromus typicus) is a squirrel-like rodent. Belonging to the Petromuridae family, these rats are basically rock-rats by nature.

What class of animal does a dassie rat belong to?

The dassie rat (Petromus typicus) belongs to the Mammalia class of animals. This rat is the only surviving member of its family, Petromuridae.

How many dassie rats are there in the world?

Even though the conservation status of these rats is currently Least Concern, calculating the exact number of these individuals is quite difficult.

Where does a dassie rat live?

The origin of the dassie rat, South Africa, is a land of rocky hills with plenty of plateaus and also mountains. The location of dassie rats ranges from the arid zone of South Africa to the northwestern part of South Africa. This area includes the Northern Cape Province. As well as in these regions, these rats can also be spotted in central and western Namibia and in the southwestern part of Angola.

What is a dassie rat's habitat?

Being a rodent found in rocky regions of South Africa, these rats are commonly referred to as rocky rats. Based on this name, we know that these dassie rats are mostly found in rocky areas of arid forest habitats. This rat prefers a low altitude and hence it lives in shrubby and bushy areas of the plateau.

Who do dassie rats live with?

Dassie rats (Petromus typicus) are mostly social animals and they live in pairs or small groups. Dassie rats are monogamous and they stay with one partner throughout their lives. When traveling, these rats either travel alone or they might travel their partner, rather than their entire group.

How long does a dassie rat live?

The dassie rat (Petromus typicus) has an average lifespan of about 10 years. The lifespan of the species may vary depending on the surroundings they are found in.

How do they reproduce?

The dassie rat is monogamous by nature and it is known to breed only once a year. They choose a partner and live in narrow crevices in between rocks with them. The breeding period is known to be from November to December and this breeding period indicates the onset of the rainy season. Females give birth to between two and three babies at the end of January. The gestation period lasts for around three months and females are responsible for feeding the babies. This species is viviparous in nature and the young rodents attain sexual maturity nine months after birth.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of dassie rats is stated as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), hence they are not a threatened or extinct species as of now.

Dassie Rat Fun Facts

What do dassie rats look like?

Dassie rats are a squirrel-like rodent species with a long yellow or brown body. Dassie rats have short ears, a blunt head, a pair of sharp claws, and a pair of flexible feet. Their body has either gray fur or brown fur throughout, and these hairs seem soft and sleek. Their ears are mostly yellow while the head seems brown. Their claws are connected to their hind feet with short hairs. These claws with black hairs are used as a comb by dassie rats. They also have long black tails. This tail is furry and requires grooming with the animal's claws at times.

Dassie rats possess flat skulls

How cute are they?

Needless to say, these dassie rats are extremely cute judging by their physical appearance. The unique coloration of the fur throughout their tails, ears, feet, and bodies makes them look adorable and shiny, like nutria rats.

How do they communicate?

The dassie rat mostly communicates through body movements. When these rats are under attack by predators and they feel threatened, they call out to other rats living in their range, to give them a warning.

How big is a dassie rat?

The dassie rat has an average weight of around 6-7.4 oz (170-210 g) in the case of males and 8.8-9.2 oz (250-261 g) for females. The length of the species is 10.9-14 in (27.9-35.5 cm) for males and females are 9.9-14 in (25.3-35.8 cm) in length. The average dassie rat size is almost half the size of a normal house rat.

How fast can a dassie rat run?

The dassie rat has a pretty fast pace and this increases when the animal feels threatened. When the species is under attack or is threatened by predators, they run for their lives and hide under the narrow boulders of rocks. The exact speed that they travel at is currently unknown.

How much does a dassie rat weigh?

The dassie rat is known to have an average weight of around 6-7.4 oz (170-210 g) in the case of males and for females, the average weight range is between 8.8-9.2 oz (250-261 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name assigned to male and female members of this species.

What would you call a baby dassie rat?

A baby dassie rat is usually referred to simply as a young rat.

What do they eat?

These African rodents are herbivores by nature and they have a variety of food in their diet. The food they eat includes leaves, berries, rocky outcrops, seeds, grasses, twigs, and shrubs. In these cases, the food is foraged by them from mushy and bushy areas. Mostly the food they eat is grasses and rocky outcrops found in the arid zone of southern parts of Africa. They eat a wide range of plants, and there aren't really any plants that dassies will not eat.

Are they dangerous?

No, they are not dangerous, like wood mice. Humans and other species are not threatened hugely by these rats, but these rodents are often threatened by their predators.

Would they make a good pet?

Just like white-footed mice and water rats, these rats do not share a healthy relationship with humans and hence they are not kept as pets.

Did you know...

Female rats of this species have nipples on the sides of their chest that help them feed their young rats under the narrow boulders of rocks.

Dassie rat is a name derived from Greek terminology that means 'rocky mouse'.

Is the dassie rat a desert rat?

Even though they feed on grass, seeds, and shrubs, this species can survive in desert habitats. This species feeds on the blossoms found in the desert in the arid zone of Africa. Despite this, there is no information about this rat of the rocks being referred to as a desert rat.

Do dassie rats have tails?

This rat is known to have a long black tail. This tail is able to fall off if the rat feels attacked or threatened by a predator. The helps the rat release itself from the grip of the predator and run away.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our chinchilla rat facts and Tanezumi rat facts pages.

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

Dassie Rat Facts

What Did They Prey On?


What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

1-2 babies

How Much Did They Weigh?

Males: 6-7.4 oz (170-210 g) Females: 8.8-9.2 oz (250-261 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

rocky hills or mountains

Where Do They Live?

the arid zone of southwest africa, southwestern angola, central and western namibia, northwestern south africa

How Long Were They?

Males: 10.9-14 in (27.9-35.5 cm)Females: 9.9-14 in (25.3-35.8 cm)‍

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Petromus typicus

What Do They Look Like?

Gray, brown, yellow

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

humans and predators

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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