The small and stocky Golden Spiny Mouse (Acomys russatus), called fa’r abu shawk dhahabi in Arabic, is named for its spiny, golden-orange colored fur that runs from its head to the base of its tail.
They use this spiny fur as part of their defense system, erecting the spines to appear larger than they are to predators, which include birds of prey, owls, and snakes. They will also bite to defend themselves.
Its blackish tail is shorter than its body. They have black ears with a white patch of fur behind each ear. Their underside is pale-colored, their legs gray, and their feet pale with black soles. They have a distinct white spot below their eyes.
Golden Spiny Mice do not make burrows, but rather live in rock crevices and among boulders. They are more strictly found in arid and rocky areas than their cousins, the Cairo Spiny Mice (Acomys cahirinus), which are also found in Sinai. Golden Spiny Mice are also diurnal and more likely to be seen during the day than their cousins.
These rodents are omnivorous and are reported to eat plant matter, seeds, dates, grains, and insects like moths and grasshoppers, but also spiders, scorpions, and dung.
I spotted the Golden Spiny Mouse in the video above in Wadi G’Nai and watching him try to get all the goodies out of the caper fruit was quite entertaining! These mice can even be found at the top of Gebel Musa.
Have you ever spotted one of these cute fellows in South Sinai?
Fishman, B. 2000. “Acomys russatus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 26, 2019 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Acomys_russatus/
Hoath, Richard. (2003). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press.