• Ruqayya Khan

Totally ratical

The giant white-tailed rat, Uromys caudimaculatus, aka the giant rat, the white-tailed rat, and the giant naked-tailed rat is a rodent species endemic to Australia. (They are found mostly in the rain forests of Queensland.) They are one of the largest rodents in Australia, weighing up to 1 kilogram. They are covered in a gray-brown fur with a white underbelly and white paws. White-tailed rats are part of the Uromyini group known as known as the mosaic tiled rats. This is because the scales on their hairless tails are arranged in an interlocking pattern, with very little overlap, rather like tiles in a mosaic. [1] Like other rodent species, the front incisors of the white-tailed rat are ever growing. Their teeth size is maintained by frequent chewing on nuts, branches, and other materials [2]. Much to their chagrin, a group of researchers from James Cook University working at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory in northern Queensland found that the white-tailed rats enjoyed the taste of the building's internet cables. Here's a quote from Professor Ian Atkinson in an interview to Diginomica: "The giant white tailed rat is a particular nuisance in Far North Queensland with its love of chewing through plastic, rubber and electrical wires. It also turns out ethernet and fibre optic cables are a tasty treat as well which it will happily climb up trees to nibble on as well." [3]

White-tailed Giant Rat by Steve Dew (aussiecreature), [CC-BY-NC], via inaturalist.org

Today, we release the genome assembly of the giant white-tailed rat. This is a $1K genome assembly that has a contig n50 = 50 KB and a scaffold n50 = 99 MB (see Dudchenko et al., 2018 for procedure details). The genome was generated using a sample from the T.C. Hsu Cryo-Zoo at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center stored all the way back in 1977! We thank Drs. Asha Multani, Sen Pathak, Richard Behringer, Liesl Nel-Themaat and Arisa Furuta in the Department of Genetics at the MD Anderson Cancer Center for their help with this sample.


This is the 16th species from the order Rodentia and the third Australian rodent we've released here on the DNAZoo Blog! Learn more about the rodents from down-under by checking out these blog posts by Dr. Parwinder Kaur on the broad-toothed rat and the brown desert mouse.

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