Greater Stick-nest Rat, House-building Rat

(Leporillus conditor)


Greater Stick-nest Rat, House-building Rat IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

The "wopilkara" reaches a head-body length of 17-26 cm and a body-weight of 180-450 g. Its head is large and blunt with large eyes and large, rounded ears. The tail is usually shorter than the head and body (average 17 cm) and has a slight terminal brush of hairs.


The fluffy fur is yellowish-brown to grey above and creamy white below. the ears are dark, greyish-brown, and the hindfeet have distinctive white markings on the upper surface.


Stick-nest rats inhabit semi-arid to arid perennial shrublands where there is little or no fresh water, particularly with succulent and semi-succulent plant species. They build charactersitic stick nests but may also use dense shrubs, bird nesting burrows, and crevices among rocks for shelter. Very large nests may contain between 10 and 20 animals, with successive generations adding to or modifying the nest.


Breeding may occur at any time of year but there seems to be a peak in autumn and winter. After a gestation period of about 44 days a litter of one to four young is born. The young attach themselves to the mother's teats where they are dragged around beneath her for a month before they are weaned and become independent.


The greater stick-nest rat is exclusively herbivorous, feeding on the leaves and fruits of succulent plants and grasses.

Did you know?
That at the time of European settlement two species of Stick-nest Rats existed in Australia, the Greater Leporillus conditor and Lesser Stick-nest Rat Leporillus apicalis? They inhabited much of the semiarid and southern arid zone of Australia and were named after the conspicuous stick-nests they built, and lived in. Since European settlement both species were severely affected by the overgrazing of their preferred habitat. A single population of Greater Stick-nest Rats survived on the Franklin Islands, off the coast of Ceduna, South Australia. The Lesser Stick-nest Rat is now presumed extinct.


Name (Scientific) Leporillus conditor
Name (English) Greater Stick-nest Rat, House-building Rat
Name (French) Rat architecte
Name (German) Langohr-Häschenratte
Name (Spanish) Rata arquitecto
Local names Australia: Wopilkara
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME)



Range Some Islands off the South Australian coast
Habitat Semi-arid to arid scrubland
Wild population Approx. 4.000 individuals (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 20 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

Greater Stick-nest Rat, House-building Rat


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 81 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME)

Why do zoos keep this animal

There are no greater stick-nest rats kept outside Auistralia. Australian zoos engage in conservation breeding of and conservation-relevant research into this endangered species.