ID help (anomalure and pouched rat) – Ghana

Hey everyone!

I came back around a month ago from a 18 day, mostly bird-related trip, to Ghana (with Kalu Afasi from Malimbe Tours) where we also found some cool mammals. In total 36 species seen and many highlights: Black-tailed pangolin by the side of the road in Nsuta, African forest elephant heard at Ankasa, Benin tree hyrax at Kalakpa, 2 Pel’s anomalures gliding at Bobiri, Roan, (heard) Spotted hyena and White-tailed mongoose at Mole, Geoffroy’s colobus at Boabeng Fiema and so many more…

I do have a few ID questions to ask though:

While spotlighting in Kakum National Park in Ghana today I saw and photographed at least three different large rats that are either Gambian pouched rat or Emin’s pouched rats based on distribution. I was wondering if you could tell which species it is from these pictures I got of one of them? If so, what are the identification criteria to tell them apart? (I read about a face mask present on Gambian that isn’t on Emin’s but looking at images on Google I fail to see a mask on either species…). Here’s a picture below, I have a few more if needed:

Then we also had a mysterious anomalure at Ankasa. Everything fits Pel’s (very large, very pied/bicoloured and an all-white belly) but the tail is dark when that should only be a feature of subspecies auzembergeri as far as I know (not found in Ghana). I only have this bad picture but the tail is pretty visible on it:

Thank you in advance, Mehdi.

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  • Daan Drukker

    Hi Mehdi, nice finds! The anomalure is a Lord Derby’s Anomalure based on the full dark tail and absence of white on the upper side of the patagium (excluding the Ghanaian and Middle-Ivorian subspecies of Pel’s), the pure white belly (excluding Beecroft’s) and the dark upperside that has some hints of orange brown (excluding the Western Ivorian and Liberian auzembergeri and also excluding Beecroft’s).

    Nice picture of the Pouched Rat! I’ve not seen many pictures of those, but based on the fact that I do not see a dark mask around the eyes, this should be a Northern Pouched Rat (Cricetomys gambianus).


  • Daan Drukker

    I see that I’ve written the wrong name in my comment about the Pouched Rat: Emin’s Pouched Rat (Cricetomys emini) is the one without the mask. However I see that you’ve realised that as well yourself. As I said I do not have enough experience with the pouched rats to help you any further with that one.

  • Mehdi

    Hello Daan,

    Thank you for the help on the IDs, I appreciate it! Thank you even more for your mammal watching report on Ghana which was of great use to plan the trip and during the trip itself too. I did wonder if the anomalure could be Lord Derby’s because of the all-dark tail but I didn’t know they had a pure white belly which threw me off. Glad to have it solved now. Definitely wasn’t Beecroft’s in any case because we did observe it climbing the tree, where we could see that the tail shape was off for that species.

  • Jon Hall

    Hi Mehdi, here is a picture of Emin’s I took last month in Equatorial Guinea. I don’t know about reliable characteristics other than range to differentiate the species but the Stuarts guide to African species also mentions a dark ring around the eye in Gambianus but not Emini …. but I agree these things can be difficult to decide in reality


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