Sundaic arboreal niviventer (Niviventer cremoriventer)

Sundaic arboreal niviventer moving through foliage
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Sundaic arboreal niviventer fact file

Sundaic arboreal niviventer description

GenusNiviventer (1)

The Sundaic arboreal niviventer (Niviventer cremoriventer) is one of 15 species belonging to the genus Niviventer, known as the ‘white bellied rats’ (3). The Sundaic arboreal niviventer has thick reddish-brown to orange-brown fur on the upperparts, with distinct long, black guard hairs. The underparts are whitish with a yellow tinge (2) (4).

The dusky, prehensile tail has a slight tuft at the tip and is longer than the head and body (2) (3) (4), providing the Sundaic arboreal niviventer with excellent balance, so that it is equally at home foraging for fruit in the canopy as it is on the forest floor (5). Its broad hind feet with well-developed pads on the soles also make it an able climber (2).

Also known as
Dark-tailed tree rat.
Length: 13 - 16.5 cm (2)
Tail length: 15 - 20 cm (2)
53 - 100 g (2)

Sundaic arboreal niviventer biology

Little is known about the biology of the Sundaic arboreal niviventer, but other Niviventer species typically produce litters of two to five young (3). The nest, which is woven from plant fibres and leaves, is commonly fixed to branches, some distance off the ground (6).

The Sundaic arboreal niviventer is reportedly omnivorous, and although details of its diet are lacking, it is known to feed on fruits and seeds (7) (8). It is agile and light enough to traverse branches less than three millimetres in diameter to reach fruit (7). As a result of this diet, the Sundaic arboreal niviventer is, like many small mammals, likely to play an important role as a seed disperser (7) (8) (9).

This small mammal often falls prey to larger animals such as the crotaline snake (Calloselasma rhodostoma) (10) and leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) (11).


Sundaic arboreal niviventer range

The Sundaic arboreal niviventer is widespread in Southeast Asia. Its range extends from peninsular Thailand, through Malaysia and Singapore to Indonesia, including Sumatra and Borneo (1).


Sundaic arboreal niviventer habitat

The Sundaic arboreal niviventer inhabits forests at a range of altitudes, from sea level up to 1,530 metres on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu (1). It favours primary forest, but may also be found in secondary forest (1).  


Sundaic arboreal niviventer status

The Sundaic arboreal niviventer is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Sundaic arboreal niviventer threats

Although the Sundaic arboreal niviventer is considered to be tolerant of some disturbance of its habitat and can live in secondary forest, the extent of habitat destruction and degradation in Southeast Asia is so great that it is causing numbers of this unusual mammal to decline (1). The palm oil and timber industries are primarily responsible for the destruction of Southeast Asia’s forests, which has resulted in the Sundaic arboreal niviventer becoming an endangered species (1)


Sundaic arboreal niviventer conservation

Although the Sundaic arboreal niviventer is reportedly present in many protected areas throughout its range (1), which should offer its forest habitat some protection, there are currently no known species conservation measures in place for this small rodent.



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Guard hairs
Long, coarse hairs that protect the softer layer of fur below.
Feeding on both plants and animals.
Capable of grasping.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. Francis, C.M. (2008) A Field Guide to the Mammals of South-East Asia. New Holland Publishers, London.
  3. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Mammals of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  4. Yasuma, S., Andau, M., Apin, L., Yu, F.T.Y. and Kimsui, L. (2003) Identification Keys to the Mammals of Borneo. Park Management Component, BBEC Programme, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
  5. Wells, K., Pfeiffer, M., Lakim, M.B. and Kalko, E.K.V. (2006) Movement trajectories and habitat partitioning of small mammals in logged and unlogged rain forests on Borneo. Journal of Animal Ecology, 75(5): 1212-1223.
  6. Wells, K., Lakim, M.B. and Pfeiffer, M. (2006) Nest sites of rodents and treeshrews in Borneo. Ecotropica, 12: 141-149.
  7. Wells, K. and Bagchi, R. (2005) Eat in or take away – seed predation and removal by rats (Muridae) during a fruiting event in a dipterocarp rainforest. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 53(2): 281-286.
  8. Wells, K., Corlett. R.T., Lakim, M.B., Kalko. E.K.V. and Pfeiffer, M. (2009) Seed consumption by small mammals from Borneo. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 25: 555-558.
  9. Nakagawa, M., Miguchi, H. and Nakashizuka, T. (2006) The effects of various forest uses on small mammal communities in Sarawak, Malaysia. Forest Ecology and Management, 231: 55-62.
  10. Daltry. J.C., Wüster, W. and Thorpe, R.S. (2006) Intraspecific variation in the feeding ecology of the crotaline snake Calloselasma rhodostoma in Southeast Asia. Journal of Herpetology, 32(2): 198-205.
  11. Rajaratnam, R., Sunquist, M., Rajaratnam, L. and Ambu, L. (2007) Diet and habitat selection of the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis) in an agricultural landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 23: 209-217.

Image credit

Sundaic arboreal niviventer moving through foliage  
Sundaic arboreal niviventer moving through foliage

© Konstans Wells

Konstans Wells
Institute of Experimental Ecology
University of Ulm


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