A lost species was rediscovered on Dinagat Island, Philippines.

Dinagat cloud rat - by William Oliver

A Dinagat Island cloud rat, belonging to the biggest and most beautiful rodents of the world, endemic to only one tiny island of the world – Dinagat Island, Philippines, was rediscovered. This species was captured only once in the history, 37 years ago. It belongs to critically endangered species, and was even feared to be extinct until early 2012, when it was observed and video recorded by a scientific couple from Czech Republic.

Cloud rats are the biggest (body size 30-70 cm) and most spectacular murids of the world, endemic only to a few Philippine Islands. They are nocturnal arboreal animals. The Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat (Crateromys australis) is the least known among them. So far, it was known only from one specimen captured in 1975. Since then number of scientific expeditions have searched for this elusive species, but with no success. It changed in early 2012 when a programmer Václav Řehák accompanying his wife, zoologist Milada Řeháková on a survey of Dinagat Island tarsiers spotted a huge hairy grey-brown rat with hairy and conspicuously black-white tail searching in the canopy. William Oliver of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, said that Řeháková had called him from the island “full of excitement and frustration” because while her husband had seen it, she had not. Finally, they both saw the cloud rat a week later. The exciting rediscovery was scientifically confirmed and this species was video documented for the first time ever.

Dinagat cloud rat - photo by Václav Řehák

This species is endemic to a small island of the Philippines, where mining and logging posses a serious threat to all wildlife, including the critically endangered Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat. Only one small locally protected area exists on the whole island. Therefore the scientists, including the couple who rediscovered the species, William Oliver and other experts from Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, have carefully prepared further conservation strategies. “Effective conservation activities must be undertaken to assure future survival of this, once lost and now rediscovered species. Local people should be proud on this unique species that is not found anywhere else in the world and should be part of its conservation”, emphasizes Dr. Milada Řeháková.

Information about this amazing rediscovery was presented to the scientific community for the first time at the Wildlife Conservation Society of the Philippines symposium on 17- 20th April in The Philippines.

4 Responses to “A lost species was rediscovered on Dinagat Island, Philippines.”

  1. ARKive blog - Exciting rediscovery of species not seen in 37 years

    […] You can read more about the rediscovery here. […]

  2. Fernan James R. Sale

    im a veterinary medicine student living in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon, Mindanao. i believe cloud rats still roam our place here.. recently, some of our farm workers caught a weird looking rat in one of our corn plantation. this was an exact kind of rat i once shot 3-4 years ago near a river. if i may describe the rat, the body color was totally similar to the northern luzon cloud rat, but the fur seem to be much dense, ad the tail had a black and white rings alternately placed. sadly i have not took a picture of the animal. and i did not know it was endangered after i saw a link on the net. maybe someone should go to my place, and conduct research, i would be glad to come along. knowing that these rats are critically endangered, i believe the people here should be educated to this magnificent creature, because i heard that they often catch them, and eat them. that’s terrible.

  3. Fernan James R. Sale

    another info regarding the diet of the rat. i tried to open the stomach, and found out that it ate mainly grasses, some seeds of indigenous legumes, and bits of corn.

  4. Renz Alfred Fernando

    Hello James,
    I’m curious about your report. I hope you can still read this reply. I’m from Mindanao and would like to work on mammals particularly of could rats. Hope I can ask of additional information if they are still present in the area. Best regards, Renz.

Leave a Reply