Moonrats are related to hedgehogs and are one of the largest insectivores. Females tend to be larger than males, but both sexes are otherwise similar in appearance, with narrow bodies, long snouts, an unkempt appearance and coarse black fur with white markings on their heads. Their exceptionally narrow bodies allow the creatures to search for prey in tight spaces. Moonrats are nocturnal, and during the day they sleep in protected spots, such as hollow logs, under tree roots or in holes. At night they search through the leaf litter for small prey.

Moonrats have long, hairless and scaly tails up to 30 cm (12 in) long.

Moonrats usually live close to water and sometimes swim in streams in search of fish, frogs, crustaceans and other aquatic prey. Some fruit, and fish and crabs too, may be eaten. They sometimes carry parts of their prey to their resting sites, to be eaten later. Moonrats are solitary animals and except during mating, they do not tolerate each other’s presence. They mark out their territories with strong-smelling scents to warn off intruders. Moonrats often respond to encounters by making hissing noises and low roars.

Distribution: South-east Asia.

Habitat: Lowland forests, plantations, mangroves and agricultural land.

Food: Worms and other leaf litter invertebrates, fish, amphibians and aquatic invertebrates.

Size: 26 - 46 cm (13 - 23 in); 0.5 - 2 kg (1.1 - 4.4 lb).

Maturity: 1 year.

Breeding: 2 litters of twins born every year.

Life span: 4 years.

Status: Common.


Mindanao Moonrat

Range: Philippines: Mindanao.

Habitat: Upland forest and forest edge, from 5,250 to 7,500 ft (1,600 - 2,300 m).

Size: Body: 5 - 6 in (13 - 15 cm); Tail: 1.5 - 2.75 in (4 - 7 cm).

This curious creature is restricted to a small natural range and has never been common. Now, because of logging operations and slash-and-burn agriculture, much of its habitat is being destroyed and its survival is seriously threatened. It has long soft fur and a tail with more hairs than that of Echinosorex. It feeds on insects, worms and even carrion, which it finds in grasses and among stands of moss. Nothing is known of the breeding habits of the Mindanao moonrats.