02 December 2013

That Giant Rat Your Cat Would Not Dare Touch


Since my cat-loving neighbours came in a few years back, those pesky brown rats and little mice that loved to invade the household slowly started to disappear. No, I don’t think the neighbours were particularly fond of rats, but the cats probably were.

The cats can be annoying at night when they go through their now-not-now mating rituals, but that is a small price to pay in exchange for the disappearance of the mice and rats. They save me a lot, too, in terms of rat poison.

The other night, however, I nearly fell of my seat while watching television when this large shadowy figure darted behind the TV rack. I first thought it was the neighbourhood cat having the utter gall and temerity.

But once it came out into the light, I realised that it was not a cat at all. Its colour was pitch black; it had this long fiendish face; and behind it trailed a lengthy tail. That was probably the biggest rat I had seen in years!


That it is endangered is probably true. I used to see a lot more of it in the old days; but this one the other night was the first I had seen in years.
The damned thing must have slipped in through one of the open jalousies. In a face-off between this rat and the neighbourhood cat, I would have wagered on the rat. No surprise the cat was not interested in taking on this one!

Frankly, neither was I; but I scrambled for a stick to chase the rat out of the house, anyway! Now picture me being half-hearted about it. The rat looked petrifying!

Coincidentally, the very same rat was in the regional news last week because somebody was caught keeping it in a cage. Beats me why anyone would want to keep something looking as hideous as that as a pet; but apparently the specie is endangered and killing or catching the rat is illegal.

Probably the neighbourhood cat just wants to stay on the right side of the law.

The specie is called the Southern Giant Slender-Tailed Cloud Rat or the Southern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat. It is a nocturnal animal that is endemic to the Philippines.

That it is endangered is probably true. I used to see a lot more of it in the old days; but this one the other night was the first I had seen in years.

Here is the full text of an article about the specie:
The Southern Giant Slender-tailed Cloud Rat or Southern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat (Phloeomys cumingi) is a species of rodent in the family Muridae. It is found only in the Philippines.The length of the head and body ranges from 44 to 48 cm. Tail lengths have been reported from 32 to 35 cm. The weight range is between 1.45 to 2.1 kg.

Equally at home high amongst the branches of a tree as on the forest floor, the southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat is a slow-moving animal, that is only active at night, spending the day in hollow trees or logs. It usually lives singly, or in pairs consisting of an adult male and female, or a female and her young, but larger groups have also been seen. Their diet consists primarily of tender, young leaves, but fruit is also reportedly eaten. The southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat typically gives birth to a single young each year, with data indicating that most births take place during the late rainy season. The young is born in the hollow of a standing or fallen tree, or in a hole in the ground. The mother carries her young firmly attached to a nipple. In captivity, one cloud rat lived for over 13 years.[1]
The Southern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat is one of eight known species of cloud rats endemic to the Philippines. Two are dwarf species: the Short-Footed Luzon Tree Rat and the White Bellied Luzon Tree Rat.

One specie, the Ilin Island Cloud Rat, is believed to be extinct. Another, the Dinagat Island Cloud Rat, was believed to have been extinct until rediscovered in 2012.

The other species are the Northern Luzon Slender-Tailed Cloud Rat, the Giant Bushy-Tailed Cloud Rat and the Panay Bushy-Tailed Cloud Rat.

Acknowledgments:
1. Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat
2. Cloud rat
3. Photo from Wikipedia.











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