The Strangest Rodents in Africa

baobab tree

It commonly understood that Africa is home to some of the world’s most interesting and rare animals. From zebras to chimpanzees, penguins, rhinos and more, this beautiful land is home to every size, shape and color of animal.

Like most parts of the world, Africa has rodents, too. However, some of the rodents in Africa might be stranger to you than those you’d find at home. Here is a quick list of some of the African rodents that we find particularly interesting, and we hope you do, too!


Native to northern Africa, jerboas are mouse-like rodents that have short forelegs but long hind legs. Almost like a cross between a rabbit and a mouse, the jerboa can have large ears. They’re cute and little, but look out! Many are taken aback by the fact that these rodents can leap in the air.

Spring Hare

The spring hare originated in Africa, is close to the size of rabbit and similar to the jerboa. Of the all rodents in Africa, the spring hare might be the most interesting-looking. With a long, bushy tail, rabbit-like ears and hind legs, and a face like a rat, this animal can be seen jumping around the southern and eastern parts of the continent.

Maned Rat

Also know as the crested rat, the maned rat is an African rodent that almost looks like a skunk. This long-haired animal resides in East Africa, has short arms and ears to match. You might see it scurrying along, or sitting up on its hind haunches to eat with its front paws.

Dassie Rat

Usually found in the southwestern regions of Africa is the dassie rat. From afar, this rodent looks almost like your average groundhog, but when you get a closer look, you’ll notice the differences. The main feature of a dassie rat that stands out are its sharp front teeth. This animal has adapted to survive in the rough landscape. With flexible ribs, the dassie rat can even flatten out and squeeze itself in between tighter spaces.


Living in the more arid regions of Africa, the blesmol has adapted to the subterranean levels of the Earth. Their front teeth can protrude beyond their closed mouth, allowing for them to dig without ingesting dirt. With a stocky body, beady eyes, no outer ears and seemingly no neck, the blesmol is not the cutest of creatures.


The largest of the small-bodied rodents in Africa is the dormouse. This animal has large eyes, a squirrel-like tail and small, round ears. Many find the dormouse endearing, as the reddish fur is soft and bushy. Dormice can climb and often build their nests in trees. These animals are usually nocturnal, but you might see one during the day if you’re lucky.

Are you interested in seeing these strange rodents with your own eyes? We hope you are! With Roho Ya Chui, you can explore Africa through safaris and tours. Enjoy the beauty of the land and the excitement of seeing these animals up-close. To learn more, please visit our website or contact us for additional information.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

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