February 18, 2009

New Rat Species Discovered In Philippines

Researchers have discovered a new species of rat in the mountains of the southern Philippines.

Discovered in 2006 by US and Filipino researchers, Hamiguitan batomys, also known as hairy-tailed rat, weighs about 6.2 ounces and lives 3,117 feet above sea level on Mount Hamiguitan on Mindanao island.

"The unusual geological history of eastern Mindanao leads us to predict that additional species currently unknown to anyone except local residents are likely to live there," Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at the Chicago museum, told AFP.

The agency told AFP that the rat's habitat is an area of less than 3,861 square miles, the agency said.

"Sadly, the region is a mining and logging hotspot. At Mt. Hamiguitan, six mining agreements cover more than 17,000 hectares of forest, which is more than half of the mountain's forest cover," said PEF executive director Dennis Salvador.

"We are working with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Field Museum to learn about the biological diversity and conservation status of the region before habitats get further damaged."

Heaney said the Philippines "has one of the largest numbers of unique species of mammals of any place in the world. Over 125 mammal species live only in the Philippines."


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