It doesn’t look it, but the Dipodomys gravipes is one tough little critter.
Last spotted in Baja California way back in 1986, mammalogists hadn’t seen tail nor whisker of the Pokémon-esque creatures since.
It was assumed these five inch animals had gone the same way as the dodo and the woolly mammoth, lost to extinction. They were even registered as ‘critically endangered: possibly extinct’ by the Mexican government in 1994.
However, these cuddly looking rats – otherwise known as the San Quintin kangaroo rat – have now been rediscovered, all thanks to the hard work and dedication of San Diego Museum of Natural History researchers.
Just announced! The @SDNHM, in collaboration with @TerraPeninsular, has rediscovered the San Quintín kangaroo rat (Dipodomys gravipes). Read more: https://t.co/iSkwd0sj14. [PRESS RELEASE] #BackfromExtinction #TheNat #TerraPeninsular pic.twitter.com/7vn15BZnyS
— The Nat (@SDNHM) April 16, 2018
These researchers laid traps in Baja California; capturing small rodents in order to monitor populations. Much to their surprise, San Quintin kangaroo rats were found in four of the traps, IFL Science! reports.
Going forward, this rediscovery may well affect conservation practices in the area as its clear there are still at least some kangaroo rats hopping about which require our protection.
According to a press release, San Diego Natural History Museum mammalogist Scott Tremor said:
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,
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.
You just can’t keep these feisty little fellows down. Take that extinction!
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The Natural History Museum will collaborate with Terra Peninsular as well as the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS) direcror Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra, on a small mammal communities conservation plan.
The San Quintin kangaroo rat will be of particular focus in a plan which encompasses restoration, habitat improvements, population health analysis and land protection as well as outreach and educational materials.
Terra Peninsular adaptive manager coordinator Jorge Andrade said:
Terra Peninsular has been monitoring the nature reserves looking for this species.
You can’t imagine how happy we are to find out that after all these efforts and with the help of The Nat we can be part of this rediscovery and continue working on its protection.
It’s very gratifying for us to think that the San Quintin kangaroo rat persists in the area to some extent, thanks to the efforts of the staff, board members, and associated researchers of our organization.
San Quintin Kangaroo Rat
— Extinked (@GraemeDraws) July 19, 2017
The San Quintin kangaroo rat is recognisable for its lengthy tufted tail. They are larger – and notably ‘feistier’ – than their other kangaroo rat cousins.
The name ‘kangaroo rat’ is due to their surprisingly powerful hind feet which allow them to bound around like tiny kangaroos. Aww.
Research Associate Sula Vanderplank said:
These rediscoveries speak to hope and resilience in a changing world,
We are learning so much about this animal and its ecology, and we’re delighted to know that it is permanently protected in the Valle Tranquilo Nature Reserve.
This delightful rediscovery just shows there is so much more to learn about our natural world. Welcome back little guy!
Great news! Museum researchers rediscover animal not seen in 30 years: San Quintin kangaroo rat found in Baja California will be subject of a conservation plan | @ScienceDaily https://t.co/65jcqapCun pic.twitter.com/QXmAH4asUc
— ICOM (@IcomOfficiel) April 23, 2018
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.