Nesokia indica (Gray and Hardwicke) - Short-tailed Mole Rat, Indian Bandicoot, Bandicoot-rat, Short-tailed Bandicoot Rat, Flattooth Rat, Short-tailed Nesokia

Systematic position.

Class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Muridae, genus Nesokia. Karyotype, 2n = 42.

Biological group.

Rodent pests.

Morphology and biology.

It is a rodent of average size. Adult individuals have the body weight 182-388 g and length 165-218 mm. Hairs are long, dense and soft in the winter; short, sparse, and rough in the summer. The scalp structure has geographical and age-specific distinctions. Barb hairs are sometimes elongated on back. Short fingers are armed with rather long, wide, and weakly curved claws. The underground way of life is characteristic of this species. It has 3 generations per year with 3-5 pups per litter. Pregnant females appear in March; year-round breeding is possible during warm winters.


The Short-tailed Mole Rat is distributed in river valleys, along lakesides, in irrigated lands and oasis in Asia and North Africa, from Xinjiang (China) in the East to the northeast Egypt in the West. The area stretches to Aral Sea (Uzbekistan) northward and to Bangladesh southward.


In its area in the territory of the Former USSR, the Short-tailed Mole Rat is common and can reach high numbers under favorable conditions. The favorable habitats are damp and weakly waterlogged biotopes. The species penetrates into populated places in Central Asia where it will probably be forced out by the Norway Rat. During high floods and at watering agricultural lands, the Short-tailed Mole Rat makes resettlement in more favorable places since it is good at swimming. Digging activity of these rodents is shown the entire year during twilight-night time, but most intensively in the spring and fall. Formation of complex burrows on the area of 80-120 sq. m, sometimes reaching 1 hectare, is characteristic of this species. Underground parts of plants prevail as food during a year; insects make an insignificant part of the food. The Short-tailed Mole Rat has many enemies, such as jackals, foxes, jungle cats, marbled polecats, weasels, domestic cats, and dogs. Large serpents, for example, blunt-nosed vipers, are dangerous for litters. Birds of prey are owls, eagles, hen harriers, et al. In outbreak years, its density locally can reach 250-350 individuals per 1 hectare. High and long flooding as well as fires in tugai thickets cause sharp decrease in its numbers. Use of crop rotations with change of alfalfa crops in 2-3 years leads to migration of Short-tailed Mole Rats to other habitats.

Economic significance.

The habitat area of the Short-tailed Mole Rat occupies a minor part of the Central Asia because the species mainly populates agricultural lands; it does significant harm, damaging underground parts of plants. In many regions, the Short-tailed Mole Rat is a pest of dry wheat and barley crops, and irrigated rice. It also damages melons and gourds, vegetable crops; significant harm is registered on perennial grasses, especially alfalfa. Inhabiting the zone of irrigation agriculture, the Short-tailed Mole Rat makes tunnels in walls of irrigation canals, causing floods and breaks in regular water delivery. It dwells in habitations, lays tunnels in wattle and daub walls, occupies cattle-breeding constructions. Plant protection measures are agronomical ones, poisoned baits, long flooding of large territories of its dwelling by water with simultaneous destruction of rats on non-flooded plots. Large killing traps with baits or arc traps are also applied in habitations.

Reference citations:

Bondar. E.P. 1963. To ecology of the Short-tailed Mole Rat. Report 1. Distribution and habitats. In: Aikimbaev M.A., ed. Proceedings of scientific conference on plague focuses in the nature. Alma-Ata: 32-34 (in Russian).
Davydov G.S. 1988. Mammalians (rodents). In: Abdusalyamov I.A., ed. Fauna of Tajik SSR. V. 20, part 3. Dushanbe: Donish, 314 p. (in Russian).
Gromov I.M., Erbaeva M.A. 1995. The Mammals of Russia and adjacent territories. Lagomorphs and Rodents. St. Petersburg: ZIN RAN, 552 p. (in Russian).
Hutchins M., Kleiman D.G., Geist V., & McDade M.C., eds. 2003. Grzimek.s Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd edition. Vol. 16, Mammals V. Detroit et al.: Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 586 p.
Milutin A.I. 2003. Nezokia or the Short-tailed Mole Rat Nesokia indica (Gray et Hardwicke, 1832). [Online] Available at: (in Russian).
Nurgel.dyev O.N. 1969. Ecology of mammals in Plain Turkmenistan. In: Panfilov D.V., ed. Ashkhabad: Ilym, 259 p. (in Russian).
Pavlinov I.Ya., Rossolimo O.L. 1987. Taxonomy of the USSR mammals. In: Cokolov V.E., ed. Moscow: Izdatel.stvo Moscow University, 284 p. (in Russian).
Polyakov I.Ya. 1968. The harmful rodents and their control. Leningrad: Kolos, 256 p. (in Russian).
Species Nesokia indica. 2005. Wilson & Reeder.s Mammal Species of the World. Third Edition. Bucknell Univesity. [Online] Available at:
Vel.titshev P.A. 1941. About the Short-tailed Mole Rat (Nesokia indica Hutton Blith.) in the Amy Darya delta. In: Vestnik zashity pasteniy, N2. M.-L.: OGIZ . SEL.KHOZGIZ, Gosudarstvennoe izdatel.stvo kolkhoznoi I sovkhoznoi literatury, p. 82-84 (in Russian).

© Saulich M.I.

Picture is copied from: "Keys to Mammals of the USSR", N.A. Bobrinskii (1965).

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