17 Dassie Rat Facts You’ll Never Forget

Dassie rat facts are interesting to read

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

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1-2 babies

How much do they weigh?

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

How long are they?

Males: 10.9-14 in (27.9-35.5 cm)

Females:  9.9-14 in (25.3-35.8 cm)

How tall are they?


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

Where you'll find them

Rocky hills or mountains


The arid zone of southwest Africa, southwestern Angola, central and western Namibia, northwestern South Africa





Scientific Name

Petromus typicus





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.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.