Invitation to the Biodiversity Forum
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Posted in Mammals, Species on July 16, 2007|
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The Philippines, a small country comprising of 7,107 islands, is home to six species of really large rodents called cloud rats—a name coined to these interesting creatures because of the ash-colored fur of a certain species from Luzon, and also because of their nature of going way up tall, hollow trees. Cloud rats are nocturnal (active at night) and arboreal, having large hind feet that are highly specialized for arboreal life and large foreclaws used for eating tender young leaves, fruits, and roots. In the wild, they are observed to be either solitary or in pairs, giving birth to one or two offspring. Aside from their sharp foreclaws, these creatures ward off their predators by using their musky odor. The species are classified into two genera, that of Phloeomys (bark-eating mouse) and Crateromys.
The group of giant cloud rats from the genus Phloeomys is comprised of two species. First is the giant cloud rat from northern Luzon, Phloeomys pallidus, locally known as bu-ot. It is the largest of the genus, which can weigh up to two and a half pounds, and is considered the largest rat in the world. Noted for its slender tail and a dark brown mask around the eyes this cloud rat can be found in northern and central Luzon specifically in primary and lowland forests of Benguet, Kalinga-Apayao, and from the Bataan/ Zambales region as verified by a team of researchers headed by Dr. Perry Ong from the University of the Philippines. This particular species is showcased at the Minnesota Zoo and Bronx Zoo where biologists are observing its reproductive and feeding behavior in captivity. Classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (or IUCN) although locally abundant, hunting and habitat degradation is the primary cause of population decline of these endemic species.
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