“The giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared” (Sherlock Holmes)

I come across bamboo rats frequently – they wander along by the side of the road once darkness falls, a slow moving, juicy meal that is half blind and whose only defence lies in powerful front teeth that can, I was told, bite straight through your finger, bone and all.

One of my dogs, misjudging an attack, was bitten through the cheek by a bamboo rat leaving a hole that took weeks to heal.

As with scorpions, a threatened bamboo rat will back away from you, keeping its head faced towards you in the hope of getting a bite in, all the time spitting with fury.  With one hand you can keep them faced forward whilst reaching behind the rat with the other and – with confidence,  pick them up – but don’t get it wrong!

They are a source of food for the survivalist (a full grown bamboo rat can weigh well over 3kg)  and one that the Orang Asli will go out of their way to hunt.  Interestingly, when I asked them about eating common rats in a survival situation the Orang Asli looked at me as if I were mad; but bamboo rats are clearly considered to be in a different culinary category.

There is however, one thing to be wary of – the noise of a cornered bamboo rat is very similar to the noise made by a spitting black cobra, indeed I mistook the two once with almost disastrous consequences – so if you do go hunting for them make sure it’s a rat you grab hold of and not the tail of an angry cobra!