Red Crested Tree Rat Facts
- Most notably, the unique Red Crested Tree Rat remains one of the most mysterious creatures to man. Since its discovery in 1898, only three individuals of this species have ever been seen.
- Further, at that time two made an appearance. But the sighting of the third specimen did not occur until 2011. Not surprisingly, up until that time scientists had believed that the creature had become extinct.
- Given these factors, the IUCN, quite understandably, lists the Red Crested Tree Rat as Critically Endangered.
- Lastly, its presumed limited population and endemic habitat create specific dangers. The animal surely faces its greatest threats from climate change, in addition to the clearing of local forest land.
Red Crested Tree Rat Physical Description
Since humans have seen only three examples of the Red Crested Tree Rat, scant information is available about the species. Conclusions, therefore, must based on those.
The three specimens ranged from 8-10 in (20-25 cm) in body length. The tails were slender and short, and a starkly contrasting dark black for part of its length, and white the rest of the way.
Also, the heaviest individual of this incredible species among the three weighed approximately 18 oz (500 g).
In color, all three were a mixture of reddish brown and white, and the pelage was long and relatively dense. The whiskers of the rat were quite long, averaging roughly 5 in (12.6 cm).
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Rodentia
- Family: Echinyidae
- Genus: Santamartamys
- Species: S. rufodorsalis
Red Crested Tree Rat Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Most notably, to date, humans have seen the species only in the dense forest regions of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia, in South America. The experts further suspect that its range remains limited to the area.
In addition, the rat inhabits altitudes between 2,300-6,600 ft (700-2,000 m) and is almost entirely nocturnal in its habits.
Lastly, the precise diet of the Red Crested Tree Rat remains a mystery. However, its dentition suggests that its diet most likely consists of a combination of seeds and fruits. But, it is not clear whether it is able to vocalize in any way.