Monday, December 31, 2012


Order Rodentia

This order contains mice, rats, squirrels, porcupines, etc.

Singapore has 17 species - 1 mouse, 7 rats, 8 squirrels, 1 porcupine.

Mice and Rats (Family Muridae)

There are 8 species in Singapore. The urban mouse and rats - Asian House Mouse, Norway Rat and Asian House Rat - are common. The rest are rare and found in wooded areas.

Asian House Mouse (Mus castaneus) - Common
Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus) - Common
Asian House Rat (Rattus tanezumi) - Common
Polynesian Rat (Rattus exulans) - Rare
Malaysian Wood Rat (Rattus tiomanicus) - Rare
Singapore Rat (Rattus annandalei) - Rare
Brown Spiny Rat (Maxomys rajah) - Rare
Red Spiny Rat (Maxomys surifer) - Rare

Asian House Mouse (Mus castaneus)

Sometimes treated as a subspecies of the House Mouse (Mus musculus). It is common in urban areas and is mainly nocturnal. It is smaller than the urban rats.

Asian House Mouse ©Tan GC

Asian House Rat (Rattus tanezumi)

It is common in urban areas and is mainly nocturnal. It is larger than the Asian House Mouse (Mus castaneus).

Asian House Rat at Siglap Canal ©Tan KH

Squirrels (Family Sciuridae)

There are 8 species in Singapore. However, two of them - Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel and Red Giant Flying Squirrel - are likely to be extinct. The most commonly encountered is the Plantain Squirrel, which is common in parks and gardens. The Slender Squirrel is smaller, but also common. The other squirrel one is likely to see is the Variable Squirrel, which is not native.

Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus) - Common
Variable Squirrel (Callosciurus finlaysonii) - Uncommon - Introduced
Slender Squirrel (Sundasciurus tenuis) - Common
Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel (Ratufa affinis) - Extinct
Shrew-faced Ground Squirrel (Rhinosciurus laticaudatus) - Rare
Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel (Hylopetes spadiceus) - Rare
Horsfield's Flying Squirrel (Iomys horsfieldii) - Rare
Red Giant Flying Squirrel (Petaurista petaurista) - Extinct

Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus)

The most common squirrel in Singapore. It is brown with a reddish belly and a black-and-white stripe on the sides. It is common in wooded areas. The other squirrel one is likely to encounter is the Slender Squirrel, but this is much smaller and lacks the stripe pattern.

Plantain Squirrels. Left: Botanic Gardens ©Melvin Dionio. Right: Pasir Ris ©Sylvia Chua

Variable Squirrel (Callosciurus finlaysonii)

This medium-sized squirrel is not native to Singapore. It is also known as the Finlayson's Squirrel. It is brown above and white below. It has established a feral population in the Bidadari wooded area.

Variable Squirrels at Bidadari. Left: ©Lau SY. Right: ©Tan KH

Slender Squirrel (Sundasciurus tenuis)

The smallest squirrel in Singapore. It is brownish all over and is common in forested areas. The other common squirrel one is likely to encounter is the Plantain Squirrel, which is not only much larger but also has stripe pattern on the side of the belly.

Slender Squirrel
Sime Forest ©Tan KH. Lower Peirce ©Lau SY

Cream-coloured Giant Squirrels (Ratufa affinis)

This was the largest squirrel in Singapore. It is cream-coloured throughout, hence its name.

Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel in Malaysia ©Danny Lau

Old World Porcupines (Family Hystricidae)

Malaysian Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura)

The Malaysian Porcupine was extinct in Singapore until it was rediscovered on Pulau Tekong in a 2005 survey[1]. Porcupines are perhaps the strangest of all rodents, being the only ones with spines on their back.

Captive Malaysian Porcupines in Malaysia ©Tan KH


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