Extinct Species of Rat Resurfaces After Three Decades

Recently, in a nature reserve in Mexico, there has been a sighting of the San Quintin kangaroo rat. This is a significant finding because the species has not been seen in over 30 years and was declared to be extinct. The rat was last seen in 1986 and was known as an example of a modern species going extinct because of agricultural conversion. The kangaroo rat was listed as extinct by the Mexican government in 1994.


There has always been searches and monitoring through the years, but there was no sign of the animal until recently, when Scott Tremor and his research associate, Sula Vanderplank, were in San Quintin conducting a monitoring of small mammal communities. They were in disbelief when some their survey traps showed not one, but four specimens of the kangaroo rats.


“Not only is this discovery a perfect example of the importance of good old-fashioned natural history field work, but we have the opportunity to develop a conservation plan based on our findings,” said Tremor, a mammalogist with the San Diego Natural History Museum. “The ability to take our research and turn it into tangible conservation efforts is thrilling. It is a commitment to preserving the uniqueness of the Baja California Peninsula.”

The kangaroo rat is only 5 inches long with a tufted tail. It is named a kangaroo rat because of its large powerful hind feet similar to that of a kangaroo. There used to be thousands of these animals in a coastal valley along the Pacific coast of Baja California, but they were decimated when massive agriculture was introduced in the 1970’s.

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