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