Tag Archives: Muridae

Melomys fraterculus (Thomas)

Manusela Mosaic-tailed Rat (Melomys fraterculus)

The Manusela Mosaic-tailed Rat was described in 1920 from only two specimens collected from Mt. Manusela on the island of Seram, Indonesia at an altitude of 1830 m.

The animals reach a length of 24.5 to 27.5 cm (including the tail).

The original habitat is now highly modified by human activities and the species is probably extinct.


syn. Pogonomelomys fraterculus (Thomas), Seram, Uromys fraterculus Thomas


edited: 28.01.2012

Leporillus apicalis (Gould)

Lesser Stick-Nest Rat (Leporillus apicalis)

The Lesser Stick-Nest Rat, which is also known as White-tipped Stick-Nest Rat, is a true rodent that formerly inhabited the arid regions of central Australia, where it appears to have formerly been quite widespread.

The species is known to have accumulated large mounds of sticks over years to construct its nests which then could grow to sizes of about 3 m in length and 1 m in height; these nests were placed at the foot of a tree or inside a natural cave.

Native people that were questioned in the 1980s could well remember these conspicuous nests.:

Many people knew stick-nest rats by the large nests remaining in breakaway caves and from the stories that have been handed down about their former occupants. Only the very oldest people could remember nests other than in caves …. We could find no evidence that more than one species was recognised [sic].” [1]

The natives did not distinguish between the two known species and indiscriminately called both of them PurnuwuruTjuyalpiYininma or Yintjurrka.

The Lesser Stick-Nest Rat disappeared during the 1930s or the 1940s; however, there apparently was a sighting of a single individual in the 1970s.

Once apparently very common, at least in some places, since Giles (1889) reported abundant nests out in the open in some areas. However, Spencer (1896) had difficulty in obtaining specimens near Alice Springs, so it may have already been in decline by then. In the 1930s Tindale shot ciné-photography in north-western South Australia of Aborigines huting [sic] stick-nest rats with the aid of dogs.” [1]


Depiction from: ‘John Gould: The Mammals of Australia. London: Taylor & Francis 1863’

(public domain)



[1] Andrew A. Burbridge; Ken A. Johnson; Phillip J. Fuller; R. I. Southgate: Aboriginal knowledge of the mammals of the central deserts of Australia. Australian Wildlife Research 15: 9-39. 1988


edited: 24.02.2024

Otomys cheesmani Taylor, Lavrenchenko, Carleton, Verheyen, Bennett, Oosthuizen & Maree

Cheesman’s Vlei Rat (Otomys cheesmani)

This species was described in 2011 based on the dried skin and skull of an adult male that had been collected in 1937; it was apparently restricted to a small area at Mt. Choqa in north-western Ethiopia

It is believed that the species was last seen in 1968; it might now be extinct.


edited: 29.04.2022

Alormys aplini Louys, O’Connor, Mahirta, Higgins, Hawkins & Maloney

Alor Giant Rat (Alormys aplini)

The Alor Giant Rat is known from subfossil remains that were recovered from cave deposits on the island of Alor in the Lesser Sundas, Indonesia.

The species was larger than most recent rat species and might have survived into quite recent times, the authors of the description in fact assume that it might be still alive today. [1]



[1] Julien Louys; Sue O’Connor; Mahirta; Pennilyn Higgins; Stuart Hawkins; Tim Maloney: New genus and species of giant rat from Alor Island, Indonesia. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity 11(4): 503-510. 2018


edited: 30.04.2021

Uromys emmae Groves & Flannery

Emma’s Giant Rat (Uromys emmae)

Emma’s Giant Rat was described in 1994, based on a single female specimen that had been cought in 1964, it apparently was endemic to the very small island of Owi, near Biak in the New Guinean part of Indonesia.

The species is believed to have mainly been arboreal, nothing else is known about its biology.

Emma’s Giant Rat is now very likely extinct.


edited: 06.05.2019

Uromys siebersi Thomas

Great Kai Island Giant Rat (Uromys siebersi)

The Great Kai Island Giant Rat was described in 1923, it is known from three specimens that had been collected on the island of Kai Besar in the New Guinean part of Indonesia.

The species reached a total length of about 36 cm including the relatively short tail.


The Great Kai Island Giant Rat is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the White-tailed Giant Rat (Uromys caudimaculatus (Krefft)) or is considered synonymous to the Aru White-tailed Giant Rat (Uromys caudimaculatus ssp. aruensis (Laurie & Hill)).

The species, if accepted, is probably extinct.


edited: 06.05.2019

Uromys boeadii Groves & Flannery

Biak Giant Rat (Uromys boeadii)

The Biak Giant Rat was described in 1994, the species is known from a single male specimen that had been collected in 1963 on the island of Biak in the New Guinean part of Indonesia.

The species reached a total length of nearly 50 cm, including the tail.


The Biak Giant Rat is officially listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ but given the amount of deforestation on its island home it most likely is already extinct.


edited: 06.05.2019

Uromys porculus Thomas

Guadalcanal Giant Rat (Uromys porculus)  

The Guadalcanal Giant Rat, described in 1904, was endemic to the island of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, it is known from a single male specimen that had been cought sometimes between 1886 and 1888.  

The species shared its habitat with another species of the same genus, the Emperor Rat (Uromys imperator (Thomas)), in contrast to that species, the Guadalcanal Giant Rat was not a giant at all, it reached a total length of only 35 cm, being half he size of its larger congener.  

The Guadalcanal Giant Rat is now most likely extinct, the main reason for this are the same as in its congeneric ‘cousin’ – predation by introduced feral cats.  


edited: 06.05.2019

Conilurus capricornensis Cramb & Hocknull

Capricorn Rabbit Rat (Conilurus capricornensis)

The Capricorn Rabbit Rat was described in 2010 based on fossil and subfossil dental remains that were recovered from the deposits inside the Capricorn Cave in Queensland, Australia and that can be dated to Late Pleistocene- to Early Holocene age.

The species probably died out sometimes during the Early Holocene.


edited: 19.08.2022

Notomys amplus Brazenor

Short-tailed Hopping Mouse (Notomys amplus)

The Short-tailed Hopping Mouse was described in 1936 based on two female specimens that were collected already in 1896; it inhabited open, stony plains with a vegetation dominated by grasses and low shrubs in the vicinity of the town of Alice Springs in central Australia.

The species apparently disappeared due to predation by introduces cats and foxes, combined with habitat destruction.


Photo: David Staples;
Museums Victoria Collections
accessed 12 August 2022



edited: 11.08.2022

Uromys imperator (Thomas)

Emperor Rat (Uromys imperator)

The Emperor Rat, described in 1888, was endemic to the island of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, the species is known from only three specimens that all were taken between 1886 and 1888.


The Emperor Rat was very large, reaching a total length of about 60 cm, including the tail. It is believed that this species inhabited the rainforests, probably being a ground-dweller and feeding on fruits and other plant material.

The species may have survived until the 1960s, since the native people at that time still knew of a large, ground-dwelling rat living in the forests. The main reason for its extinction very likely lies in the predation by introduced feral cats.


edited: 06.05.2019

Rattus adustus Sody

Burnished Enggano Rat (Rattus adustus)

This species was described in 1940 based on a single specimen that had been found in the 1920s on the island of Pulau Enggano, western Indonesia.

The species is, or rather was, living sympatrically with two additional congeneric species: the endemic and critically endangered Enggano Rat (Rattus enganus (Miller)) as well as the rather widespread Malayan Wood Rat (Rattus tiomanicus (Miller)).


edited: 02.08.2022

Papagomys theodorverhoeveni Musser

Verhoeven’s Giant Rat (Papagomys theodorverhoeveni)  

The genus Papagomys contains two species, the Flores Giant Rat (Papagomys armandvillei (Jentink)), which is threatened with extinction, and Verhoeven’s Giant Rat, which is probably already extinct.  

Both species are endemic to the island of Flores, Indonesia.  

The Flores Giant Rat reaches a length of about 80 cm, its fur is mainly grey and it has proportionally small eyes and ears.  


The other species, Verhoeven’s Giant Rat, was described in 1981 based on subfossil remains, it was slightly smaller than its congener.  

The remains could be dated to about 2000 to 1000 BC..  

Verhoeven’s Giant Rat is considered extinct, however, there is a slight possibility that it may survive undetected.  


edited: 20.03.2018

Melomys sp. ‘Timor, small species’

Small Timor Melomys (Melomys sp.)

This up to now unnamed mouse species is known from subfossil remains that were recovered, together with the remains of a second congeneric but larger species, from cave deposits on the island of Timor.



[1] Ian Glover: Archaeology in eastern Timor, 1966-67. Department of Prehistory, Australian Naitonal Univ 1986
[2] Samuel T. Turvey: Holocene Extinctions. Oxford University Press, USA 2009


edited: 07.05.2019

Rattus nativitatis (Thomas)

Bulldog Rat (Rattus nativitatis)

The Bulldog Rat was described in 1900.:

Size large; form thick and clumsy, the limbs and tail stout and heavy, but the head peculiarly small, slender, and delicate. General colour dark umber-brown all over, the belly not or scarcely lighter than the back. Ears small, laid forward they barely reach to the posterior canthus of the eye. Fur of back, long, thick, and coarse, but without the extremely long piles so characteristic of M. macleari, the longest hairs being about 40 to 45 mm. in length. Hands and feet very thick and heavy; the claws, especially on the fore feet, enormously broad and strong, not compressed, more than twice the size of those of M. macleari, and evidently modified for burrowing. Palms and soles naked, smooth; the pads broad, low, and rounded, unusually little prominent; last hind foot pad elongate. Tail shorter than the body without the head, very thick, evenly tapering, nearly or quite naked; its scales triangular, very large, the rings averaging about seven or eight to the centimetre; its colour uniform blackish brown throughout, above and below, the white skin, however, showing to a certain extent between the scales.” [1]

The species reached a size of about 45 cm, including the tail.


The species was endemic to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, it was one of only five mammal species inhabiting that island naturally, all of them endemic and all of them, except for one, now extinct.

The Bulldog Rat inhabited the floor of the dense rainforest, the animals lived in small colonies and built burrows among tree roots or under fallen logs.

The species disappeared due to the introduction of Black Rats (Rattus rattus (L.)), which apparently carried diseases that the endemic rats fell victim to.



[1] Charles William Andrews: A monograph of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean). London, Printed by order of the Trustees 1900


edited: 24.04.2019

Pseudomys sp. ‘Basalt Plains’

Basalt Plains Mouse (Pseudomys sp.)

The The Basalt Plains Mouse has not been formally described yet, despite the fact that this species is known from hundreds of subfossil remains that have been recovered from Arboriginal middens and owl-roost deposits.

The species inhabited the tussock grassland on the basalt plains of western Victoria, Australia, it probably survived into the 19th century but disappeared when its habitat was destroyed due to sheep farming.


edited: 07.05.2019