Posts Tagged ‘New Species of Giant Rat Discovered’

Washington Post: Mammalogist Tyrone Lavery has learned of a giant rat known to locals as Vika that lives in the trees, is a foot-and-a-half long, and has teeth so sharp it can punch through a coconut. Yes, the Vika is very real.

Its scale-covered tail, great jaws and a few rare photos were revealed Wednesday in the Journal of Mammalogy.

Uromys Vika is the first rodent species to be discovered in the Solomon Islands in nearly a century, at the end of Lavery’s long search.

He was first drawn to this chain of hundreds of islands in 2010, as he researched mammals at the University of Queensland. Far off the coast of Australia, the Solomons are renowned for elusive, unique species that evolve in near isolation from the rest of the planet — like the Guadalcanal monkey-faced bat.

The PhD student was sitting around a fire with village elders on the island of Vangunu, in the thick-forested caldera of an ancient volcano. As rice and sweet potato cooked in the flames, Lavery recalled, he asked the elders what things he might find in the forests.

“They told me about this giant rat they called Vika,” he said. They said Vika lived in the trees, was a bit smaller than a possum, and was so strong it could chew through thick-shelled Ngali nuts.

And then one day in late 2015, back in Australia, he got a phone call from the island. Loggers in a camp outside the village had felled a Kapuchu tree — particularly prized for its wood. After the tree hit the ground, something big and brown came scampering out of it. The loggers knew an Australian scientist had been searching for Vika for years, and word of the animal spread through the village.

Two friends of Lavery — John Vendi and Hikuna Judge — managed to catch the animal.

It looked like an adolescent, and it had lost part of its tail in the fall or subsequent capture. Still, it was estimated to be a foot-and-a-half long, and might grow to weigh more than two pounds — four times larger than your average garbage rat.

Well, sweet Jesus. This is all we need, right? Monster possum-sized rats that live in the freaking trees? That’s just horrifying. But hey, they can only bite through coconut shells and thick-shelled Ngali nuts, so nothing to worry about.

PS- That Guadalcanal Monkey-Faced Bat is downright petrifying, huh? Looks like someone experimented with a Chihuahua and a Fruit Bat.