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Potential of rodents for minilivestok in Africa

Jori F., Edderai D., Houben P.. 2005. In : Paoletti Maurizio G. (ed.). Ecological implications of minilivestock : potential of insects, rodents, frogs, and snails. Enfield : Science Publishers, p. 25-45.

In many African countries several species of rodents are highly valued as a source of food and income for local people. Systems of rearing are fully developed, however, only in those species, such as the cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus) whose biology is already well known. Semidomesticated breeds have been selected and periurban extension experiments have yielded satisfactory results in many countries. For other species, such as the brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus), its potential as minilivestock has yet to be fully assessed. It adapts well to captivity but shows little promise for rearing because female productivity is low. Giant rats or Cricetoma (Cricetomys spp.) are widely consumed and some countries have initiated research on them with promising results. Unfortunately, despite considerable improvements, no attempts have been made to develop extension programs. Even though rodent production is slowly developing in some parts of Africa, with obvious ecological and socioeconomic benefits, rodent farming projects are not the panacea and many problems still need to be solved to reach a large-scale production and to offer an alternative to the bushmeat trade.

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