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Galen Rathbun and Carolyn Rathbun (2005)

Noki or dassie-rat (Petromus typicus) feeding ecology and petrophily


The noki or dassie-rat (Petromus typcus) is a rupicolous diurnal herbivore that is endemic to the southwestern and biogeographical zone of Africa. It is the only representative of the hystricognath family petromuridae. During our study of the social structure of nokis, we gathered data on their feeding behaviours during four periods totaling nearly seven months from 2000 through 2003. Nokis fed on a wide variety of plants with a preference for fresh leaves and stems, fruits, and flowers when available. They also ate a wide variety of city leaves and stems. Relatively few plants and plant parts were avoided. There was no indication that food was cached or stored. There was no evidence that nokis and rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) competed for food resources, despite often feeding together. We speculate that a previously undescribed and unusual noki behaviour (the ``tail-stand'') is associated with coprophagy. In hot and and regions of Australia, some herbivorous mammals feed on the rich flora in rocky areas that is associated with unique water regimes often found in these habitats. A similar relationship may partially explain why nokis are endemic to rocky habitats in the southwestern arid zone of Africa. Other features contributing to the adaptive syndrome include their phylogeny and historical zoogeography, a need for dietary water, a low metabolic rate, a flexible and diverse diet, and all unusual Suite of behaviours associated with digestion. The result is an obligate petrophile.

diet; dassie-rat; feeding; namibia; noki; Petromus; petrophily; rupicolus
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology