Known from the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic).
The Hispaniolan solenodon and its relative the Cuban solenodon are the only living mammals to posses modified incisors which enable them to inject venom into their prey like a snake.
Solenodons diverged from all other living mammals during the Cretaceous Period, an incredible 76 million years ago. This separation occurred at least as long ago as the branching of many entire mammalian orders (e.g. pangolins versus carnivores, or manatees versus elephants).
The two living solenodon species are believed to have diverged around 25 million years ago, when northern Hispaniola separated from eastern Cuba. This separation is comparable to the divergence between distinct mammalian families, for example, dolphins versus whales (30 Myr ago), or humans versus Old World monkeys (23 Myr ago).
Solenodons are among the few land mammals to survive European colonisation of the West Indies.
The main threats are habitat loss due to increasing human activity and deforestation.
The introduction of exotic predators, such as dogs, cats and mongooses may also be detrimental to solendon populations. Since the species had no natural predators before European colonisation of Hispaniola, and is a slow clumsy mover, it does not possess many defences against introduced animals.
EDGE aims to determine the status of this poorly-known species and make recommendations for the development of appropriate conservation measures to secure its future.
The Hispaniolan solenodon is an ancient West Indian insectivore known from the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Solenodons have the unique ability to inject venom into their prey through specialised grooves in their incisors. Before European colonisation of Hispaniola the species was one of the dominant predators on the island. It never evolved any “anti-predator” defences and is therefore poorly equipped to defend itself against introduced predators such as dogs, cats and mongooses. The species may also be declining as a result of the loss of its forest habitat to logging.
EDGE researchers, in collaboration with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust plan to assess the current conservation status and distribution of the species, determine the relative impacts of habitat destruction and introduced mammals, to allow the development of an appropriate conservation management strategy.
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