If you don't like rats because they're icky and gross, then you should just close your web browser now, because if that's the case, then nothing good can possibly come from what you're about to read about the discovery of a new giant rat.
Researchers studying the environment of Manus Island have come across a relatively large species of rat that is only now being documented after over 30 years of sightings from residents across the island.
Weighing in at a relatively hefty half-kilogram (almost 1.1 pounds), the Rattus Detentus, named for after the Latin word for ‘detained,’ is one of the world’s largest species of rats. The name is given based on the nature of the island, which is used quite often for detaining people.
The researchers took DNA samples and compared the animal to existing rat species to look for any difference in bone structure, skull structure, and other bodily structures that could set the species apart from all of the other rat species out there.
The findings are published in the Journal of Mammology and detail the rat with a short tail and very coarse fur. It apparently has the tools and skills to gnaw on and open nuts with its powerful and sharp incisor and molar teeth, which means this is probably what it predominantly feasts on.
Despite being seen across the island many times by passerby over the last several decades, the researchers do note that it’s getting harder and harder to find it. This suggests that the animal may be lowering in numbers and could be entering an endangered state.
If this is the case, the recent documentation might be a good thing, as it could lead to preservation measures to prevent the dwindling species from going extinct in just a few more decades.
Source: Journal of Mammalogy via The Guardian