Of all our focal species for 2007, the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) has received the least attention in support and sponsorship, even though it is the fifth highest ranked EDGE mammal. This truly lonely nocturnal insectivore is found only on the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola. Its only living relative is the Cuban solenodon. The ancestors of these two species diverged from all other mammals an astonishing 76 million years ago.
Solenodons resemble very closely the primitive mammals that lived near the end of the age of the dinosaurs. They are the only mammals with the ability to inject venom into their prey through specialized grooves on their second insiors. The Hispaniolan solenodon was the top predator on its island habitat until nineteenth century. It was during this period that its population began to decline with the arrival of western explorers to the island who introduced dogs, cats and mongooses, which found the naïve solenodons easy prey.
Since the arrival of Europeans the destruction and development of the solenodon’s forest habitat has applied more pressure to their populations, causing them to become separated and fragmented, hindering the ability of individuals to find mates and reproduce. Solenodons also have a slow reproductive cycle, with females producing only 1 or 2 litters of 1–3 young a year, which serves to compound their problem of dispersal and increase their vulnerability to local threats.
The EDGE team are very concerned about the decline of this species. Individuals are notoriously difficult to observe in the wild and relatively few have been recorded. To help raise the awareness of the plight of these creatures we have created a Valentine’s e-card for you to send to the people you care about. We are trying to generate enough support to carry out a comprehensive survey of solenodon habitat to find out how many individuals survive, and what actions are needed to ensure these remarkable animals have a future.
You can support the Hispaniolan solenodon by making an online donation at https://www.edgeofexistence.org/conservation/hispaniolan_solenodon.asp