Spacer Spacer
I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa




Introduction: Little or no studies have been carried out on the rock dormouse (Graphiurus platyops). A distinguishing feature is their flattened skull and they are known to be active at night in rock piles. In central Namibia where rocks are scarce they can be found climbing around on camelthorn trees. Communication between dormice is part visual, part vocal. Attention to other dormice can be gained by lashing the tail around. They also use scent trails and warning calls consist of a number of short low-pitched notes.

Distribution: Widespread throughout Namibia, including Etosha National Park and in the Namib Desert.

Diet: Insects and seeds. They will hibernate during winter when food is scarce.

Coloring: Grey with a white underside and a white patch extending onto the back behind the foreleg. A reddish chin and a white-tipped bushy tail.

Breeding: Very little is known other than their young are born in the summer.


Introduction: The bushy-tailed hairy-footed gerbil (Gerbillurus vallinus) live in a natural habitat of dry savannah, temperate grassland and hot deserts. They are highly sociable creatures with 'grooming invitation' gestures and contact between individuals is common. They are known to communicate between each other by drumming their feet on the ground.

This species of gerbil live in burrows located at the base of shrubs, which can retain heat, protect them from predators and act as larders. Nests are built using seed husks and grass. Escape burrows are also a feature.

Distribution: Southern parts of Namibia, central highlands only.

Diet: Although it is largely dependent on ephemeral plants, the bushy-tailed hairy-footed gerbil is an opportunistic herbivore. It will feed on insect exoskeletons, seasonal insects and grasses and seeds found in burrows.

Coloring: Varying from reddish-brown to dark grayish-brown with white underparts, forelimbs and feet.

Size: Head and body length 120mm. Tail 50mm. Weight: 40g.


Introduction: The Brukkaros pygmy rock mouse (Petromyscus monticularis) is a species of rodent found only in Namibia in a natural habitat of subtropical or tropical dry shrub land. It is so named because the original specimen was taken from Brukkaros Mountain. They are a very small species with a tail shorter than the head and body. A Brukkaros pygmy rock mouse group is called a 'nest, colony, harvest, horde or even a mischief'. The females are called 'doe' and males 'buck'.

Distribution: Confined to the Brukkaros Mountain in southern Namibia, but it is possible this species may have spread further southwards.

Diet: Not known.

Coloring: The upper parts are brownish-buff, the under parts grey. The bases of the hairs on the upper parts are a slate-grey. The ears are short and dark brown in colour, the hands and feet are white.

Breeding: The young of a Brukkaros pygmy rock mouse is called a 'pinkie, kitten or pup'. Mating habits and gestation periods are unknown.

Size: A total length of around 19cm and a mass of around 20g.


Introduction: Brant's whistling rat (Paratomys brantsii) is so called because of their habit of calling out to each other in times of danger with a sharp, piercing whistle. Ultrasonic calls, not heard by humans, are another form of communication. They are often seen in and around semi-arid areas of deep sandy soils, with low vegetation surrounds.

These creatures are semi-social and after breeding become solitary. Pairs of adults occupy a warren until their offspring are born. Warrens are located close to each other and provide shelter and warmth in the winter and cool from the summer desert heat.

Snakes are of a particular danger to Brant's whistling rat and they do not escape to the confines of their burrows in these instances, obviously aware that the snake will follow. Other predators include jackals, the honey badger and the pale chanting goshawk.

Distribution: Southern Kalahari Desert in Namibia.

Diet: Brant's whistling rat consumes more than 50 plant species in its diet, enabling sufficient moisture intake not to need to drink water. Succulent green foliage, twigs and gnawed branches from bushes are taken back to the burrow to be eaten.

Coloring: A browny-yellow soft body hair gradually changing to creamy-white on the belly.

Breeding: Litters of between 1-3 pups attach themselves to the mother's nipples during the first week. They are dragged around in foraging excursions, including when leaving the burrow.

Size: Body length 150mm. Tail 93mm.


Introduction: The camelthorn tree is the favourite living quarters of the black-tailed tree rat (Thallomys nigricauda) one of only 2 species of tree rats found in Namibia. Groups of 2 to 8 nest in holes and cracks in and between the main stems of trees. A mass of untidy twigs, grasses and leaves are often assembled to protect the entrance to the hole.
Predators include snakes such as the Cape cobra which find their way into the nest during the day. Owls follow suit but at dusk and black-tailed rats will escape out of any hole, falling to the ground or darting to higher branches to safety.

Distribution: The Kalahari sandveld in eastern Namibia and in the Central Highlands including Etosha National Park.

Diet: An herbivore it eats young leaves, buds and the bark and pods of Acacia trees and occasionally insects. Water is obtained from food and is not dependant on drinking water.

Coloring: Brown upper body with white underparts and a black tail with a developed black face mask.

Breeding: A breeding pair will produce 2-5 pups in summer. Young survive sudden attacks by clinging to the mother's nipples as she makes her escape.

Size: Average body length males 270-340mm, females 275-325mm.

Weight: 100-190g. Both male and female have black tails longer than the head and the body.


Introduction: Porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) are the largest of rodents in the southern African region. The generic name Hystrix is Greek for porcupine and africaeaustralis is the specific name indicating that they occur in the more southerly parts of Africa. An essential habitat requirement of the porcupine is shelter in which to lie up in during the day, which goes some way in explaining their preference for broken country with rocky hills and outcrops. The can be found resting in crevices in rocks or caves, but will freely use abandoned aardvark holes which they modify for their own use. They are not usually found in forests.

Porcupines are solitary animals but have been observed in pairs or a female with her offspring. They are also exclusively nocturnal but have been seen sunbathing close to the entrances of their shelters.

Distribution: They are widespread throughout Namibia and have even been recorded in the coastal parts of the Namib Desert.

Diet: Although porcupines are predominately vegetarians, they have been recorded as eating carrion. Their food includes bulbs, tubers and roots which they dig up, fallen wild fruits such as the wild fig and they also gnaw on the bark of trees. They collect and gnaw at bones as a means of combating a phosphorous deficiency and large collections have been observed at their shelters. Their diet extends to that of farmers crops such as groundnuts, potatoes, pumpkin and root vegetables such as carrots, onions and beetroot are a favourite. They are also particularly fond of as beans and peas as well. Porcupines are classed as destructive feeders, as they often damage more crops than they eat.

Coloring: Porcupines bodies are protected by a unique covering of long, pliable spines, stout, sharp defence quills and flattened bristly hairs. Both the hair and quills are white with black annulations, declining in length towards the base.

Breeding: Sexual behavior leading up to copulation is initiated by the female. In Namibia the young are born in the summer months and are born in grass-lined chambers in resting holes. Litters range from 1 to 4 young.

Size: Adult males have a mass of around 17kg, females 18.5kg. Some individuals have been recorded as reaching a weight of 24kg. Males average about 835mm in length, females slightly larger. The spines are up to 50cm in length, the quills up to 30cm.

For more information you can visit our website at