Two New Species of Tweezer-Beaked Hopping Rats Discovered

Posted on August 20, 2019

Rhynchomys mingan

Scientists have discovered two new species of tweezer-beaked hopping rats in the Philippines. The scientists say the rats hop around like little kangaroos. Worms are the preferred diet of the new species named Rhynchomys labo and Rhynchomys mingan.

The rats were discovered by a Field Museum reseaerch team led by the late Danny Balete. The researchers discovered the rodents love earthworms after they were unable to capture them using peanut butter as a lure.

Larry Heaney, a curator at the Field Museum and a co-author of the study, says in the announcement, "Once we began baiting the traps with live, wriggling earthworms, we discovered that these little animals are common and widespread."

The species names are for the mountains the rats are found on, Mount Labo and Mount Mingan. R. mingan is pictured in the drawing above and R. labo is below. The discovery was announced in the Journal of Mammalogy.

Study lead author Eric Rickart, a curator of the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah, says, "They're quite bizarre. They hop around on their sturdy hind legs and large hind feet, almost like little kangaroos. They have long, delicate snouts, and almost no chewing teeth."

Heaney also says, "They're very docile, very cute. Their fur is short and very, very dense, like a plush toy. They make little runways through the forest and patrol these little trails, day and night, looking for earthworms."

Rhynchomys labo


Image: Velizar Simeonovski, Field Museum