Last seen in 1898, the red-crested tree rat (or Santamartamys rufodorsalis) has turned up in an ecolodge at a nature reserve in Colombia. Showing up at the front door and calmly posing for pictures, the red-crested tree rat can get 18 inches long and possesses a mane-like band of reddish fur around its neck and a black and white tail.
The red-crested tree rat (Courtesy of Lizzie Noble/ProAves, http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/red_crested_tree_rat_photos.html)
The assumed-to-be-extinct animal made its comeback appearance at the El Dorado Nature Reserve in the north of Colombia. The (re)discovery of the animal, by two volunteer researchers who were monitoring endangered amphibians, hints at other exciting discoveries in the region. The El Dorado Nature Reserve is 2000 acres large and is a popular destination for ecotourists. Named after the mythological city of gold, the reserve is situated in the cloud forests at an altitude of 5900 feet and hosts some of the highest concentrations of endemic and threatened bird and amphibian species.
Its appearance has put the red-crested tree rat on the IUCN Red List, with the status Critically Endangered. Most of the little fellow’s habitat is being marauded by introduced feral cats that prey on native fauna, so let’s hope this rediscovery will not be followed anytime soon by the news of its extinction.
Conservation International Press Release (http://www.conservation.org/newsroom/pressreleases/Pages/Rodent-Rediscovered-Colombia.aspx)
IUCN Red List News Release (http://www.iucnredlist.org/news/spectacular-mammal-rediscovered-after-113-years)