Lophiomys Skull Replica measures 2.5 inches. Lophiomys Skull Replica is museum quality polyurethane resin cast. Known as Maned Rat

The Lophiomys or Maned Rat is hardly the continent’s most fearsome looking creature. The rabbit-sized rodent resembles a gray puffball crossed with a skunk, yet its fur is packed with a poison so lethal it can fell an elephant and just a few milligrams can kill a human.

The Lophiomys or Maned Rat is the only mammal known to sequester plant toxins for chemical defense.

People in East Africa have long suspected the rat to be poisonous. These large rodents sequester toxins from the poison arrow tree Acokanthera schimperi. A source of traditional arrow poisons.

Acokanthera contains cardenolides, compounds similar to those found in monarch butterflies, cane toads and some human heart medications. Cardenolides, particularly the ones in Acokanthera, are highly toxic to most animals.

When threatened, the Lophiomys or Maned Rat lives up to its name and erects a crest of hair on its back to reveal a warning on its flanks, black and white stripes running from neck-to-tail on each side of its body.

The Lophiomys or Maned Rats chew the Acokanthera bark and lick the plant toxins into specialized hairs at the center of these stripes.

These rats have an unexpected social life. The rats appear to be monogamous and may even form small family units with their offspring.

They live a monogamous lifestyle and have special squeaks, purrs and other communicative noises making up a wide vocal repertoire.