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Multimammate Mice


Multimammate Mice

Praomys (Mastomys) natalensis

(This species has been reclassified.

You may find outdated references as Rattus natalensis and Mus natalensis)

By Heritage-pets


Common Names Include: Natal Multimammate Rat, Common African Rat, Soft-furred or African Soft-furred Rat.


Multimammate Mice are the possible link between mice and rats. They are said to be the most common rodent in Africa. In their natural environment they can be found in small to extremely large groups throughout most of south, central and eastern Africa.  Other than in the mountains and desert areas, they seem to have become well established in most open areas, small towns and cultivated farmland.


Adults Weigh approximately 60 grams and measure about 25-27 cm tip of the nose to tip of tail with the head & body length 15 cm and the tail length of 11 cm.  A normal wild coloured Multimammate mouse is agouti but due to the fact that this animal has been kept and bred in labs since the mid 1900’s, many colour mutations have become well established. In North America this species is still new and although still rare most of the animals, kept as pets, are the various colour mutations.


The nocturnal, multimammate mouse is considered to be easy to keep, undemanding and odor-free. Although not really aggressive, sometimes they (especially the males) can get a bit nippy when defending their territory. Multimammate Rats were named because the females possess extra teats, (8-14 pairs rather than the usual 5 or 6 pairs that other rodents have). Their soft, silky fur has given them their nick name the “Soft-furred Rat”.


A small colony of Multimammate mice/rats can be kept in a large glass tank with tight fitting, well-ventilated lid. They can also be housed in small animal cages but I prefer glass tanks as they seem less messy. They are terrestrial animals; the tanks need to be equipped with climbing furnishing such as branches, twigs, rocks and natural substrates that make the tank more enjoyable for the animals and for the owner who is studying them. Like all types of rodents they do need a hiding spot or nesting area for sleeping and where they can feel safe while raising a family.  Be forewarned that multimammate mice can be hard on live plants and do enjoy chewing so when you are deciding on a new setup, only use items that can be disinfected properly, that are safe and products that can be easily replaced, when needed. I have seen some beautiful in home terrarium style set ups for many small furry exotics and personally, I think that whenever possible maintaining these types of natural habitats are just as rewarding as the pets themselves.


Multimammate Rats/Mice are omnivores, they eat mostly seeds but fruits, vegetables and animal protein are all a part of their normal diet. It is very important that your pets have a good quality small hamster/gerbil mixture of seeds available at all times. They also need to receive a little of everything else mentioned, at least twice per week.   Water must be available at all times.


When conditions are favorable, the Multimammate Rat breeds throughout the year, it is very prolific and if kept in pairs can reproduce once a month in captivity. If you don’t want them breed it is better to keep them in same sex pairs as it will not be as easy as you might think to find homes for all of the babies. 


Sexual Maturity is reached at 3 months of age and the gestation period lasts approximately 23 days. The litter size can vary from 1 to 20 but normally 8-10 pups are born nearly naked and blind. All the pups are raised by all if the females in colony. The pups open their eyes when they are 14 days old and shortly there after start to investigate their surroundings. They should not be weaned until they are 21-23 days old and should remain with the parents until they are at least 28 days old.


When starting a new colony it is probably best to pair animals from different colonies as this will help prevent inbreeding, to some degree.


Now that these unique Mulitmammate rats (mice) have made there way to North America It won’t be long before they will be seen offered for sale in pet stores.  When at all possible buy only young, same sex pairs from pet stores. They should make fine as pets. If you plan on starting to breed them, I think it is advisable to contact a breeder directly. They are not expensive, they range to 50.00-75.00 per pair (depending on quality, age and colour mutations).




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