Found only on one tiny island in the Philippines, the Camiguin forest rat (Bullimus gamay) is a little-known species as it has only been known to scientists since 2002 (3). The Camiguin forest rat has soft, thick dark reddish-brown fur, which is slightly paler on the underside.The snout and the sides of the face are covered in dark grey hairs (3).
The Camiguin forest rat has small, nearly naked ears, relatively large forefeet, and long, wide hindfeet (3). The relatively short tail, which measures less than the head and body length, is almost entirely hairless (3).
The scientific name of this species, gamay, means ‘little’ or ‘small sized’ in the local Philippine language, and refers to the Camiguin forest rat’s small size compared to other Bullimus species (3).
- Also known as
- Camiguin bullimus.
- Total length: 35 - 40 cm (2)
- Tail length: 12 - 18 cm (2)
- 295 - 360 g (2)
Camiguin forest rat biology
As the Camiguin forest rat has not long been known to scientists, fairly little is known about this species (3).
A nocturnal animal, the Camiguin forest rat moves about the forest floor at night in search of plant material on which to feed (2). Other Bullimus rats apparently shelter in burrows under thick vegetation (5), which the Camiguin forest rat may also do.
Camiguin forest rat range
The Camiguin forest rat occurs only on Camiguin Island in the Philippines (2). Camiguin Island, which is situated north of north-central Mindanao, is a steeply mountainous island with several active volcanoes, covering just 265 square kilometres (4).
Camiguin forest rat habitat
As its name suggests, this diminutive species inhabits forest. This includes mossy forest, montane forest, and areas where there has been some natural disturbance (such as landslides and volcanoes). The Camiguin forest rat has been recorded at elevations between 900 and 1,475 metres (1) (3).
Camiguin forest rat status
The Camiguin forest rat is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Camiguin forest rat threats
Habitat loss, particularly at lower elevations, is the greatest threat to the Camiguin forest rat (1). Slash-and-burn agriculture, logging, and urban development are all activities that destroy and degrade the forest of Camiguin Island (1).
Pressure on Camiguin’s natural habitat has been increasing as the human population grows; the human population increased from 57,000 in 1980 to more than 73,000 in 2000 (4)
Camiguin forest rat conservation
Considering its small size, Camiguin Island supports a great diversity of fauna. Three species which occur here, including the Camiguin forest rat, can be found nowhere else in the world. As such, the island is considered a priority site for conservation (4). Conservation of the island’s habitats will not only benefit the flora and fauna, but also the people that live there, who rely on the natural resources the island provides (4).
The TimboongHibok-hibok Natural Monumentwas established to protect the remaining upland areas of forest on the island, which will help protect the Camiguin forest rat (1). However, further measures are required, such as increasing efforts to protect existing forests, and the continuation and expansion of reforestation projects, using only native trees (4).
Find out more
Learn more about conservation in the Philippines:
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- Active at night.
- The cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create space for agriculture or livestock.
IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
Heaney, L.R., Balete, D.S., Dolar, M.L., Alcala, A.C., Dans, A.T.L., Gonzales, P.C., Ingle, N.R., Lepiten, M.V., Oliver, W.L.R., Ong, P.S., Rickart, E.A., Tabaranza Jr, B.R. and Utzurrum, R.C.B. (1998) A synopsis of the mammalian fauna of the Philippine Islands. Fieldiana Zoology, 88: 1-61.
Rickart, E.A., Heaney, L.R. and Tabaranza, B.R. (2002) Review of Bullimus (Muridae: Murinae) and description of a new species from Camiguin Island, Philippines. Journal of Mammalogy, 83(2): 421-436.
Heaney, L.R. and Tabaranza, B.R. (2006) Mammal and land bird studies on Camiguin Island, Philippines: background and conservation priorities. Fieldiana Zoology, 106: 1-13.
Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.