Grasscutter. Photo:

Greater Cane Rat, Thryonomys swinderianus, also known as Grasscutter, is one of the two species of Cane Rat, a large rodent genus distinguished by its stocky body, and a large, blunt head. Because of its size, this animal, called Oya in Yoruba, is valued for food and has become popular meat in western Africa. The cane rat farm industry is on the rise in Nigeria, reported to be particularly practiced among retirees in Ibadan, putting the meat safely in the food chain. However, grasscutter farming is faced with challenge for the high prevalence of parasites and infections with various species of gastrointestinal helminthes. The rat is an agricultural pest, eating grasses and cane plants.

Breeding is usually in the wet season of the year. A gestation period of 150 days follows a successful mating and they deliver twice a year with the average of 5-7 kids.

bushmeat market in the 1970s
A bushmeat market in the ’70s. Source: NNP
Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer