THE MULTIMAMMATE MOUSE RATTUS (MASTOMYS) NATALENSIS SMITH: A LABORATORY-ADAPTED AFRICAN WILD RODENT
- 1Laboratory-breeding stocks of the multimammate mouse, Rattua (Mastomys) natalensis, have been maintained since 1939 and have become of increasing importance in medical research. This mouse has been used primarily as the standard test-animal in routine diagnostic and experimental work in plague.
- 2It is highly susceptible to experimental infection with Schistosoma mansoni, and in consequence has assumed importance in bilharzia research.
- 3A high proportion (30 to 50 per cent) of animals dying in the colony from natural causes have been found to be suffering from spontaneous adenocarcinoma of the glandular stomach—a condition which is extremely rare in animals other than man. The multimammate mouse promises to be an impor tant experimental animal in cancer research.
- 4The taxonomic status of the multimammate mouse has not been satis factorily defined. Some of its anatomical and physiological features are Rattus—like, others Mus—like, while others appear to be unique (e.g. the presence of a prostate gland in the female).
- 5The known similarities and differences between the multimammate mouse, the laboratory rat and the laboratory mouse are tabulated. On the available data it is hard to say whether it should be classified as a subgenus of Rattus, as it is at present, or whether Mastomys should be given generic rank or made a subgenus of Mus.