Tours & Travel

Wild at Heart with Rafsanjan: Deadly Prey

The Maned Rat a.k.a Crested Rat

The Maned Rat a.k.a Crested Rat

Nature is brutal and unforgiving.

The big boys of the wild will bully or kill and even eat the smaller ones.

The smaller creatures know this and most of them have evolved their own sneaky and pesky ways of survival.

The Maned Rat a.k.a Crested Rat is one of those little fellas that will go to any length to defend themselves.

The porcupine-like rat turns its quills into lethal weapons by coating them with a plant toxin.

Once a predator like a leopard or jackal approaches, the nocturnal rat will not run or shrink from a fight like many small animals would do. With a more than enough dose of the toxin ouabain in its gunroom, this fluffy ball will stand its ground and hand the foolish predator its excruciating prescription.

Scientists say that the dogs that have attacked the crested rat have suffered everything from temporary paralysis for a couple of weeks to death.

But how does the Crested Rat build its nuclear weapon?

Well, according to NatGeoWild TV, researchers made their discovery after presenting a wild-caught crested rat with branches and roots of the Acokanthera tree, whose bark includes the toxin ouabain.

The rat gnawed and chewed the tree’s bark but avoided the nontoxic leaves and fruit. It then applied the pasty, deadly drool to spiky flank hairs. Microscopes later revealed that the hairs are actually hollow quills that rapidly absorb the ouabain-saliva mixture, offering an unpleasant surprise to predators that attempt to taste the rat. No other animals are known to use a truly deadly external poison, researchers say.

This rat can be found in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

In Uganda, you can find the Crested Rat in the magnificent Kidepo Valley National Park in northern Uganda.

The crested rat poison study appeared August 3 on the website of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.



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