oa African Zoology - Seasonal variation in the diet and foraging behaviour of Brants' whistling rat, Parotomys brantsii, in northern Namaqualand

Volume 33, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



The diet and feeding behaviour of a population of Brants' whistling rats, Parotomys brantsii, was studied in northern Namaqualand. The diet of P. brantsii in this winter rainfall area confirms that it is a generalist herbivore, feeding on most plant species in proportion to their abundance, with winter annuals as well as succulent perennials being of particular importance. Summer was the only season in which foraging time (searching for food) exceeded feeding time. Additionally, feeding rates were depressed in summer, indicating that whistling rats may have been nutritionally stressed at this time. The findings of this study support the view that P. brantsii, whose physiology is not particularly well suited to the semi-arid regions in which it occurs, has partly overcome this constraint through diet selection. Furthermore, in the winter rainfall area where this study was conducted, individuals were least able to feed and forage effectively during summer when food availability is presumably lowest.

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