The brush-furred mice
, genus Lophuromys
are a peculiar group of rodents
found in subSaharan Africa
. They are members of the subfamily Deomyinae
, a group only identifiable through molecular analysis
is also known as the brush-furred rats
, harsh-furred rats
or coarse-haired mice
The brush-furred mice are so named due to the unique, stiff hairs that make up their pelage
. The texture is similar to a soft brush
. They are peculiar looking for several reasons. The coat varies depending on species but range from tan to greenish greys and dark brown. Some species have an almost purplish tint to the pelage and others can be speckled. The underside is rusty, orange, brown, or cream colored. They are chunky mice with relatively short legs.
Most animals have noticeable scars, notched ears, or are missing part of their tails. The skin is delicate and the animals appear to use this as a predator avoidance technique. The tail breaks easily and may be lost so that the animal can escape. Once lost, it does not regenerate. The skin is also very delicate and tears easily, particularly in strategic positions such as the scruff of the neck. In fact, if an animal is held by the scruff of the neck, it is capable of struggling its way free by tearing itself loose leaving behind a patch of skin containing hair and epidermis. Specimens found in museums are rarely seen that lack tears that have been sewn together.
Habitat and diet
Brush-furred mice appear to require moist areas and perhaps grasses
. They are generally excluded from dry savannahs
and forests with dense canopies
. They are variable in degree of diurnality
They appear to feed more on animal matter than most muroids. The proportion of animal material in the diet ranges from 40-100% depending on species (Dieterlan, 1976 in Nowak, 1999). Food consists of ants, other insects, other invertebrates, small vertebrates, carrion, and plant matter.
Brush-furred mice are solitary
and are reported to fight when placed together. This may contribute to the wounds found on individuals. A brush-furred mouse was recorded to have lived
for over 3 years in captivity
Allopatric speciation appears to have played an important role in shaping the evolution of this genus. Research conducted on the group suggests that isolated species exist a relatively short distance away from one another. Gene flow is either absent or greatly restricted among these isolated pockets. This has led to differences detectable by karyotype, allozymes, and DNA sequencing. The number of recognized species in this genus has increased in recent years and is probably still not representative of the true diversity of this group.
- Genus Lophuromys - Brush-furred mice
- Subgenus Kivumys
- Subgenus Lophuromys
- Dieterlen, F. 1976. Die afrikanische Muridengattung Lophuromys Peters, 1874. Stuttgarter Beitr. Naturkunde, ser A, no 285.
- Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London.
- Nowak, Ronald M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1936 pp. ISBN 0-8018-5789-9