Echimyidae – Neotropical spiny rats

The spiny rats -when held from the tail, they break it off and run harmlessly to their burrow except for the loss of a tail, obviously!

This family is the most diverse family of rodents in South America and contains around 20 genera and 80 species. They earn their common name because most species of this family have spiny or bristly hairs, at least on their backs and rumps. These spines’ function is unknown, but they may aid in repelling water in very rainy tropical forests.

Spiny rats inhabit an amazing variety of habitats. Some are fully arboreal, while others spend their lives on the forest floor, nesting in shallow burrows and probably never climbing. Then there are some fossorials that build and occupy complex burrow systems.