The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Ice Rat / Sloggett's Rat / Sloggett's Vlei Rat

Afrikaans name: Sloggett se Rot

Ice Rat

Ice Rat

Photo © EcoView -

Otomys sloggetti

The Ice Rat is also known by the far less interesting name of Sloggett's Vlei Rat, or just plain Sloggett’s Rat. It is unique to mountainous areas in the Drakensberg, the Eastern Cape. It is found at high altitudes including on the summit of Mont-aux-Sources which is 3,282 metres high! As you can imagine at these altitudes there is, at times, snow and ice which is the origin of its popular name. Its preferred habitat is rocky areas, but it may also be found in grasslands and marshlands.

Ice Rats have long thick fur, short limbs and a rather short tail which are all adaptations to the icy conditions it faces during winter. Their fur is brown on top, with greyish sides and its underparts are buffy. They are rust coloured on their noses and sides of their faces.

These rodents are active during the day. They start off by sunning themselves in a spot where they can keep an eye out for predators. Once it has warmed off it goes foraging food before returning to the safety of a pile of boulders or a rocky crevice. They feed on shoots of reeds, grasses and other plants.

Ice Rats may be seen singly, pairs or small groups. No information is available on their breeding habits which is unsurprising given the tough environment in which they live.

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: 72


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