Tyrone Lavery, a mammalogist part of the Field Museum in Chicago, discovered a new giant rat species in the Solomon Islands. This is an insular country east of New Guinea. The rat is so big that Lavery believes that this species can eat coconuts by cracking them with their mouths.
This two-pound rat lives in the dense canopy of the trees of the island. It has an orange-brown fur and a smooth tail which is covered by fine scales that can be up to 18 inches long. It also has black feet and short round ears. Scientists are calling the rat Uromys vika, while locals have talked about the “vika” for years.
New and Giant Rat Species Discovered
Lavery says that he hopes the discovery of this species will help bring support to the Zaira Conservation program. The rat is threatened because of the logging industry on the Solomon Islands. Its habitat is quickly being destroyed by loggers.
Lavery adds that: “The Zaira Conservation program is right next to where this giant rat species who eat coconut was found and they are very determined to preserve their forest against logging.”
The rat had remained elusive up until this point in time. Lavery has made several trips to the island in hopes of capturing one alive. He chanced to be on the island when a tree was cut down, and a giant rat fell down from it. Unfortunately, the fall killed the specimen, but Lavery was nonetheless able to use it to prove that these rats that eat coconuts actually exist.
It is believed that they originally lived in New Guinea or Australia. A long time ago, these giant rats must have used vegetation to float to the island where it then developed into a separate species. The two-pound rat may help encourage researchers study the area before it is too late as more trees are being cut down all the time.
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