The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Brants' Whistling Rat

Afrikaans name: Brants se fluitrot

Brants's Whistling Rat coming out its burrow

Brants' Whistling Rat

Photo © Gerrit de Vries -

Parotomys brantsii

This interesting rodent gets its name from its habit giving off a piercing whistle when alarmed. They stamp their hind feet at the same time before bolting for the safety of their burrows. The Brants’ Whistling Rat is found in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia where it prefers drier areas dominated by shrubs or farming.

They vary in colour in different parts of their range. In some areas they are yellowish brown with white underparts and a tail that is evenly coloured above and below. In other areas they have yellowish upperparts and grey underparts, while the tail is darker on top than below. They grow to a length of around 25 cm of which the tail accounts for 9 cm. They weigh around 120 grams.

Brants’ Whistling Rats are active during the day. They feed on seeds as well as the leaves and stems of succulent plants. Their burrows have chambers which are lined with plant material.

These rodents live a solitary life outside of the breeding season but do seem to come together during the breeding season. They are territorial and even the females will chase the males away until they are ready to breed. The female gives birth to one to three young. Interestingly, the young cling to her nipples and she drags them around while she feeds.

Brants's Whistling Rat

Photo © EcoView -

References and further reading

Chris and Tilde Stuarts Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 1st Edit - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 1988 - Page: 118

Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 2001 - Page: 118

Land Mammals of Southern Africa - A field guide - Author: Reay HN Smithers - Published: 1986 - Page: 70

The Living Deserts of Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Darry Lovegrove - Published: 2021 - Page: 106

The Mammal Guide of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Burger Cillie - Published: 2011 - Page: 212

Wild Ways - 2nd Edition - Author: Peter Apps - Published: 2000 - Page: 56


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