Foods and foraging places of rats (Rodentia: Muridae) in the lowland evergreen forest of Ghana

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Abstract

A study was made of the foods and ground-zone foraging places of Muridae in little-disturbed moist evergreen forest in Ghana, West Africa. Data were obtained by means of baited traps operated for about 8000 trap-nights, and by the examination of the contents of 218 stomachs.

Seven species of rats were found, of which six are believed to be members of the natural forest fauna. Foraging places of rats of some species were found to be related to features of the topography and the structure of the vegetation. Diets consisted of vegetable materials, insects and soft-bodied invertebrates. The relative importance of these categories is estimated for each species on the basis of a non-microscopical volumetric method. Plant tissues were recognized by histological features, but were not identified. The variety of vegetable foods, numbers and sizes of food masses in the stomachs, and sharing of vegetable foods between species are analysed. Cases of ecological isolation are pointed out, and a brief comparison made with the Central African forest murid fauna.

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