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Two-foot-long cloud rat rediscovered after missing for forty years in the Philippines

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Czech computer programmer, Vaclav Rehak, was the first person to see a living Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat (Crateromys australis) in nearly forty years, reports GMA News. Rehak was traveling on Dinagat Island with his new wife, Milada Rehakova-Petru, a specialist on Philippine tarsiers, when he stumbled on the rodent, which has only been recorded once by scientists in 1975. Found only on the Dinagat Island, the rodent was feared extinct, but is now imperiled by mining concessions and logging across its small habitat, which is thought to be less than 100 square kilometers.

“My husband, programmer Vaclav Rehak, saw a big hairy rat creeping through the vegetation slowly at the beginning of 2012. A week later, we took the first photographs and video recordings [of the rodent] in the wild,” Milada Reháková-Petru told Czech media, Ceske Noviny. The couple were traveling in a partially protected forest.

Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat. Illustration by William Oliver, Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation.
Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat. Illustration by William Oliver, Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation.

The almost orange-colored rodent sports a long tail with a bushy white end. From head to tip-of-tail, the Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat is nearly 2 feet (21.6 inches, 55 centimeters) long, making it one of the world’s longest rodents. Currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, it was thought ‘possibly extinct.’ The Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat is also listed as number 99 on the EDGE mammals list, which categorizes species by their threat level and their evolutionary uniqueness.

The species is threatened by chromite and nickel mining as well as continued logging on the island, which is only 967 square kilometers.

Dinagat Island is home to two other rodents found no-where else, including the Dinagat moon rat (Podogymnura aureospinula) and the Dinagat hairy-tailed rat (Batomys russatus), both considered Endangered. The island’s dwindling forests also contain populations of the Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), listed as Critically Endangered; the white-winged flying fox (Pteropus leucopterus), Endangered; the crested lizard (Hydrosaurus pustulatus), Vulnerable; and the Philippine tarsier (Carlito syrichta), Vulnerable among others. The Philippines are considered a global biodiversity hotspot, but many of its species are on the edge of extinction.

Rehakova-Petru and William Oliver of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (PBCF) are authoring a paper on the discovery.

To see the video: Ceske Noviny article with video.

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