In India cats and dogs are wary of the greater bandicoot rat

Sometimes commenters on the Internet suggest that rats can be controlled by domestic and community cats. I’m referring to “community cats” because in this article I am also referring to India where the community cat is a major feature of the relationship between humans and cats. There are many more community cats than there are true domestic cats in that country which I have to say is another indication of the failure of cat domestication but that is another story.

Domestic cat encounters a greater bandicoot rat in a slum in India
Domestic cat encounters a greater bandicoot rat in a slum in India. Domestic and community cats are said to be wary of this large and fierce rat.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Higher standard of living

There’s an interesting back story here in that the citizens of India now expect a higher standard of living. This is supported by the fact that 430 millions of its 1.4 billion citizens regard themselves as middle class.

The Indian climate is tropical and there are 46 cities with a population of more than one million people.

High rat population

The general dynamics of the country are very supportive of a high rat population of which the greater bandicoot rat is one species. It’s a species which is said to be fierce and it is large at up to around 30 cm long excluding the tail.

An average domestic cat might be around 46 cm in length excluding the tail. So, their sizes are not widely different. When you factor in the character of this rat species you can see why cats and dogs are wary of them.

The upshot is that the presence of community cats and domestic cats in India does not help to deter the presence of these rats. And they breed very quickly with females having up to 10 litters with each up to 14 pups. The young reach sexual maturity at 50 days old and their diet is mainly human refuse.

Rentokil

And because one cannot argue that cats can be used as a bona fide rat deterrent, the company Rentokil Initial is bolstering its presence in India by stepping up its battle with this famously tough adversary, the bandicoot rat.

Andy Ransom, Rentokil’s chief executive said: “India’s increasing urban population, growing middle classes and largely tropical climate makes it one of our key targets for future growth. With over 6,000 small pest control companies in India, the rollup mergers and acquisitions opportunity remain significant.”

As a side issue, India has over the past 15 years developed a cat fancy of sorts. They have cat shows and there is a general interest, far more so than in the past, for adopting a purebred cat, normally a Persian as this it remains the best-known purebred cat on the planet.

There’s more interest in cats as a companions in India which heightens the interest in the presence of rats. Can these domestic cats, purebred or not, deter these resourceful pests? And the answer would appear to be a resounding no.

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Description of the greater bandicoot rat

The greater bandicoot rat (Bandicota indica) is a rodent species found in several Asian countries, including Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Here are some key details about this fascinating creature:

  • Appearance:
    • The greater bandicoot rat has a dark gray-brown upper body covered in long, black hairs.
    • Its sides are gray with a few additional long, black hairs.
    • Ventral surfaces (underside) have short, light gray fur.
    • The tail is dark, naked, and scaly.
    • Dark feet with light-colored claws complete its distinctive appearance.
    • Younger individuals are lighter in color.
  • Size:
    • The body length (excluding the tail) ranges from 27 to 29 centimeters.
    • The tail itself can grow up to 28 centimeters.
    • Notably, these rats should not be confused with marsupial bandicoots found in Australia and neighboring New Guinea, which were named after the bandicota rats.
  • Behavior and Habitat:
    • Aggressive: Large and aggressive, bandicoot rats raise their guard hairs on their backs and emit grunts when disturbed.
    • Territorial: When caged with other bandicoots, they often fight to the death within a few hours.
    • Habitat: They inhabit the outskirts of human dwellings, including compounds, gardens, and areas near garbage bins. Occasionally, they are found on roadsides.
    • Burrowing: Their characteristic large burrows give away their presence. They can tunnel through brick and masonry, causing damage to grounds and flooring.
    • Diet: Not picky eaters, they feed on household refuse, grains, and vegetables. Unfortunately, they are serious pests in poultry farms.
    • Lifespan: Adult bandicoot rats typically live around a year.
  • Reproduction:
    • Females have between 8 and 10 litters during their lifetime.
    • Each litter consists of 8 to 14 rat pups, which are born blind and naked.
    • Young bandicoot rats reach sexual maturity around 50 to 60 days after birth.
  • Parasites and Diseases:
    • Parasites: Bandicota indica hosts parasites such as Schistosoma spindale and Angiostrongylus cantonensis.
    • Disease Carriers: They are associated with diseases like leptospirosis, hantavirus, babesiosis, and bovine schistosomiasis.

In Sinhala, the bandicoot rat is known as “maha uru-meeya” (මහ ඌරු මීයා), and in Malayalam, it is called “panni-eli” (പന്നിയെലി), both of which directly translate to “pig-rat” . These rodents play a significant role in their ecosystems, even if they occasionally cause trouble for humans! 🐀🌿

Source: primarily Wikipedia.

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Are domestic and feral cats frightened of the greater bandicoot rat?

Domestic and feral cats often exhibit varying reactions to the greater bandicoot rat (Bandicota indica). Let’s explore their potential responses:

  1. Curiosity and Hunting Instinct:
    • Domestic Cats: Many domestic cats are natural hunters. When encountering a bandicoot rat, they might display curiosity and a strong hunting instinct. They could stalk, chase, and attempt to catch the rat.
    • Feral Cats: Feral cats, being wild and self-sufficient, are even more likely to view the rat as prey. They may actively hunt and consume it.
  2. Fear and Avoidance:
    • Domestic Cats: Some domestic cats might be wary of larger rodents like the bandicoot rat. If the rat displays aggression or emits defensive sounds, cats may become cautious or avoid it.
    • Feral Cats: Feral cats, accustomed to surviving in challenging environments, may be less fearful. However, if the rat fights back or poses a threat, they might retreat.
  3. Individual Variation:
    • Domestic and feral cats have unique personalities. Some cats are bold and fearless, while others are more skittish. Their reactions to the bandicoot rat can vary significantly.
  4. Experience and Exposure:
    • Previous Encounters: Cats that have encountered bandicoot rats before may have learned from those experiences. If they were harmed or frightened, they might remember and react accordingly.
    • Lack of Exposure: Cats that have never encountered bandicoot rats might approach them with curiosity or caution, depending on their innate temperament.

In summary, cats’ reactions to bandicoot rats depend on their individual traits, past experiences, and natural instincts. While some cats may fear or avoid these rodents, others may see them as potential prey. 🐱🐀

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