Our current understanding of the habitat preferences of rodents and insectivores in Africa is weak because studies have been conducted in different ecosystems, each with different study objectives, methodologies and lengths of study periods (e.g. Delany, 1971; Cole, 1975; Cheeseman & Delany, 1979; Iwaye, 1989; Stephenson, 1993; Sillero-Zubiri, Tattersall & Macdonald, 1995; Keesing, 1998; Granjon et al., 2002). Moreover, findings are confounded by the restricted geographical focus of the majority of studies with many large areas receiving little or no attention. For example, although many studies have investigated the rodent ecology of the miombo–mopane woodlands of southern-central Africa area, most have given only brief consideration to habitat preferences, focusing instead on other issues such as population dynamics (Sheppe, 1972; Happold & Happold, 1990, 1991; Liers et al., 1997), growth trajectories of specific species (Liers et al., 1990; Christensen, 1993), small mammal behaviour (Choate, 1972; Hubbard, 1972), reproduction (Neal, 1991), community structure (Linzey & Kesner, 1997a) and conservation (Happold & Happold, 1997). In those few studies that do discuss habitat preferences in this biome there is surprisingly little consensus, making generalizations difficult.