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Okinawa Spiny Rat
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  • English name
    Okinawa Spiny Rat, Muennink's Spiny Rat
  • ClassificationRodentia, Muridae
  • Scientific nameTokudaia muenninki

Okinawa Spiny Rat
Click the image to expand

The Okinawa Spiny Rat lives only in the Yanbaru forest in the northern part of Okinawa Island. They face extinction because they are attacked by feral cats and mongooses and they are losing their homes to deforestation.

Size & Weight (Adult)

Weight: Around 13-17.5 cm
Tail length:Around 10-12 cm

(Source: Doubutsu Sekai-isan* Red Data Animals Kodansha) (*World Animal Heritage)

Where they live

The Okinawa Spiny Rat lives in the northern part of Okinawa Island called the Yanbaru forest in Japan. The Yanbaru forest is a treasure trove of rare creatures, and it has been called the "Galapagos of the East."

What they eat

Their favorite food is nuts like acorns and the nuts of chinquapin trees. They also catch and eat insects.

What they are like

During the day they hide on the ground or in holes in trees, and at night they go searching for food. They move through the forest by hopping.

Find out more about the Okinawa Spiny Rat!

What are the spines on its back for?
The Okinawa Spiny Rat lives only in the northern part of Okinawa Island in the Yanbaru forest. Just like its name, its back is covered with spines. But these spines are not hard and sharp like a hedgehog's spines. Originally, there were no carnivorous mammalian predators that hunted the Okinawa Spiny Rat in the Yanbaru forest. These spines are not for protection, they are thought to serve some other purpose.

Hunted by predators that should not be there...
From the beginning of the 20th century, a change started to take place in the Yanbaru forest. Carnivorous mammals such as cats and mongooses that people brought from outside the island became feral. The Okinawa Spiny Rat, which had evolved in an environment without predators, was helpless against the attacks of these animals. The forest is still being cut down, and their numbers have now fallen to a level where it looks like they will become extinct.

Reference

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  • Part4 "Deforestation - building roads destroys animals"
  • Part6 "Non-native species?! Abandoned pets cause environmental destruction??"

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