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Two jumping rats live in our Rare Animal Conservation Center:
Rosalie: Female, born at the zoo on March 12, 2009. Rosalie is Edward’s sister.
Ricky: Male, born January 16, 2008 at Africa Alive!, a zoo in the United Kingdom. He arrived in Philadelphia on October 17, 2012.
You can also find a jumping rat in the nocturnal wing of the Small Mammal House:
Edward: Male, born at the zoo on July 18, 2009. Edward is Rosalie’s brother.
A fourth jumping rat lives off-exhibit in the Children’s Zoo where she is used for educational programs:
Monti: Female, born at the zoo on September 7, 2008. She is the first hand-reared Madagascar giant jumping rat in the world.
Small Mammal House and Rare Animal Conservation Center
Madagascar giant jumping rats have large ears and a long sparsely furred tail. They have thick fur that is usually brownish gray on the upper parts and cream color on the underside and feet. They resemble small kangaroos because their rear feet are large in comparison to the front - an adaptation for jumping. This is the largest rodent found on the island of Madagascar.
Little is known about their average lifespan in the wild, but in captivity they have been known to live as long as 12 years - although this is uncommon.
Since they are small, secretive and rare, very little is known about their natural history. They are strictly nocturnal and live in complex burrows in an exclusive territory. They communicate with a wide array of sounds including trills and barks.
GJRs live in stable family group consisting of a monogamous pair, their current offspring, and offspring from the previous year who help raise the new litter. Unlike many other rodents, they have small litters - usually only 1 or 2. The offspring are weaned at approximately 4 weeks of age, but they often stay with their parents for two years.
About the size of a rabbit, with a body length of 12-14" and a tail length of 8-9".
GJRs weigh 2.5 to 3 lbs with captive animals sometimes reaching 3.3 lbs.
They are found only in a small area of fragmented forest on the west coast of Madagascar.
On the 2012 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Madagascar giant jumping rat is listed as Endangered.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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