99.
Dinagat bushy-tailed Cloud Rat
(Crateromys australis)
CR
Overview

Discovered in 1975, this strikingly beautiful cloudrunner rat was known from a single specimen, until january this year when it was rediscovered by Czech researchers on Dinagat Island in the Philippines. It has a chunky body, long tricoloured tail and tawny and orange fur. Nocturnal and arboreal, this species may be dependent on primary forest. Targeted surveys for this species have yet to be undertaken to determine how big its range is on Dinagat. Reports of arboreal rats on nearby Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands give hope that the species may occur there as well, but further surveys are required to confirm this.

Urgent Conservation Actions
Targeted surveys to determine the status and distribution of this species.
Distribution
Dinagat Island, Philippines
Associated Blog Posts
23rd Apr 12
We decided to focus on this mysterious species this week because for this beautiful bushy-tailed ‘cloud-runner’ rat (Crateromys australis) was recorded t...  Read

19th Apr 12
  The Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat (Crateromys australis) has been rediscovered in the wild after nearly 40 years in hiding. With a body size o...  Read

Media from ARKive
ARKive image - Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat
ARKive video - Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat - overview
ARKive image - Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat
ARKive image - Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat amongst vegetation
ARKive image - Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat showing tail
ARKive image - Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat showing tail
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
The genus Crateromys comprises four species of cloudrunners, all endemic to the Philippines.  For more than 80 years the genus Crateromys was thought to be monotypic, consisting of the spectacular C. schadenbergi from the highlands of northern Luzon. Three additional species of cloudrunners are now recognised: C. australis, C. paulus and C. heaneyi, of which C. australis appears to be most primitive, based on colouration, body proportions and some cranial and dental characters. Crateromys which forms a phylogenetic group with Batopmys (Luzon and Mindanao forest rats) and Carpomys (Luzon rats), all of which are endemic to the Philippines.

 
Description
Size: 
Head and body length: 265 mm
Tail length: 281 mm

This strikingly beautiful rat has a chunky body, long tricoloured tail and tawny and orange fur. The upper parts are tawny peppered with black and the under parts are bright orange-brown. The fur is rough but not coarse. The uniform colour of the head is broken up around the eyes, each of which is set within a narrow ring of darkly pigmented skin that is circled by a ring of skin with short and pale brown hairs. The relatively long tail is tricoloured: the basal 30 mm is about the same colour and texture as that of the upper parts of the body, and the rest of the tail is covered with short bristly hairs; the proximal half is black, and the distal half is white.  Hairs at the tail tip are slightly softer and longer than elsewhere and form a tuft.
Ecology

Little is known about the ecology of this species, but in january 2012 a lone individual was seen climbing in primary forest canopy at night, so it is likely to be arboreal and nocturnal.

Habitat

The holotype is from disturbed lowland forest, near a logging road. The species may be dependent on primary forest. The individual seen in january 2012 was in an undisturbed forest habitat, but it is not known whether this species is able to persist in secondary forest. The species is small for a cloud rat which occurs in the canopy.

Distribution

This species which is endemic to the Philippines was known only from a single specimen collected between 1974 and 1975 from Balitbiton, Loreto municipality, Surigao del Norte Province, Dinagat island.

Several teams of biologists have visited Dinagat briefly but specific surveys for this species have not been performed and the species was not located. However, in january 2012, two Czech researchers recorded still and video footage of an individual bushy-tailed cloud rat in a semi-protected watershed reserve site on central-north Dinagat Island, scientifically confirmed after they returned from the island. The extent of the species range is still unknown.

The species may occur also on adjacent islands, especially Siargao and Bucas Grande, where Podogymnura aureospinula, previously only known from Dinagat, is now known to occur. Local people on the nearby island of Siargao reported seeing an arboreal rat resembling Crateromys australis but this still needs to be confirmed.

Population Estimate

One live individual found in a semi-protected watershed reserve site on central-north Dinagat Island.

Status
Listed as Critically Endangered (B1ab(i,ii,iii)) on the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Threats
Dinagat island is particularly threatened by increasing levels of mining for chromite which occurs in ultrabasic areas. The species and habitat occur in an area which is negatively affected by local political activities. Deforestation is probably a major threat and a recent visit to the island showed that much of the forest has been logged.
Conservation Underway
No targeted conservation measures are underway, although the area around the type locality is included within an Important Bird Area.
Conservation Proposed

Targeted surveys are urgently needed on Dinagat to determine the species’ range, especially in the north-central area of pristine forest where one individual was found, and also on Siargao and Bucas Grande islands to ascertain if it occurs there. Surveys of this species could potentially be undertaken under the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) required for mining projects.

Links
References

Musser, G. G., Heaney, L. R. and Rabor, D. S. 1985. Philippine rats: Description of a new species of Crateromys from Dinagat Island. American Museum Novitates 2821: 1-25.

Oliver, W. L. R., Cox, C. R., Gonzales, P. C. and Heaney, L. R. 1993. Cloud rats in the Philippines--Preliminary report on distribution and status. Oryx 27: 41-48

Ong, P., Tabaranza, B., Rosell-Ambal, G., Balete, D. & Heaney, L. 2008. Crateromys australis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 13 August 2011.

if you can provide new information to update this species account or to correct any errors, please email us at info@edgeofexistence.org


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