Habitat: Sumatra and the Thai-Malay Peninsula; subspecies found in Borneo
Status: Least Concern
Behold by the light of the full moon – the Moonrat (Echinosorex gymnura)! This stocky, three pound creature, isn’t actually a rodent, though. It’s actually an insectivore that is essentially a primitive tropical hedgehog with a long tail and fur instead of spines. It’s the only member of the genus Echinosorex. They might have placed it in its own genus because its overwhelming stinkiness drove off the rest of the members! Ha, just kidding.
But really, Moonrats are incredibly foul-smelling creatures; their anal glands produce an extremely potent scent, something along the lines of ammonia and rotten garlic that envelops the creature’s entire body. You can even smell the Moonrat coming from several yards away. Lovely! This is why it’s nickname is the Night Stinker. I think that’s in the running for the best animal nickname I’ve ever heard. I might just use that in everyday life now as an insult. “YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE?! YOU’RE A GOD DAMN NIGHT STINKER, THAT’S WHAT!”
As you might have guessed, Moonrats are nocturnal and terrestrial. You can find them hanging out under logs or in abandoned burrows during the day. You might even spot them in the water, as Moonrats love to swim! They usually will keep their head and back above the surface but will also dive and swim underwater. They’ll hunt for things like aquatic insects, tiny fish, and freshwater mollusks. I wonder if the stench is evident underwater as well… hmm….