White-tailed Wood Rat, Purna WLS, Gujarat

Jay Dholakia


Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Small creatures such as the white-tailed wood rat are often overlooked when biodiversity checklists are prepared for protected areas. Incidental reports like these are therefore valuable in augmenting our knowledge of species diversity in our sanctuaries and National Parks.

White Tailed Wood Rat (Madromys blanfordi) — First Record in Purna Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat.

On 23th January 2015 at around 2:29 am, we were travelling from Dhulda to Mahal, passing through the Purna Wildlife Sanctuary (PWLS). The PWLS, spread over a small valley, falls in Kalibel range, situated in Dang district of South Gujarat. The area has dense forests with thick bamboo brakes and is drained by the beautiful river Purna, which gives the sanctuary its name.

As we were passing the Crab Fall, we saw a rat, which had become a victim of road kill. As we were in doubt about its identity, we took a few photos and noted down the co-ordinates (N 20.57’01.397”, E 073.39’38.540”) of the place where we found it. On reaching Surat, we analyzed the pictures and found it to be a White Tailed Wood Rat (Madromys blanfordi).  The Status of Biodiversity in PWLS’, published by Forest Department, Gujarat State and GEER Foundation, has listed 23 mammalian species, but White Tailed Wood Rat is not mentioned in the list. Thus, this is the first record of the species from PWLS, Gujarat. The White Tailed Wood Rat has been given its name because the upper body is dark brown while the entire lower body is white, with about one fourth of its tail also being white. This species is endemic to South Asia, where it is distributed in Bangladesh (Sathira), India (Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal) and Sri Lanka (Southern and Eastern Province).  

Acknowledgement – I would like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Raju Vyas, Mr Snehal Patel for providing me proper guidance. I would also like to thank Nature Club Surat for helping me with books etc.

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