Thought to be a recently evolved species, the Isabel naked-tailed rat probably only diverged from its sister species (the Bougainville naked-tailed rat) as little as 14,000 years ago. This is thought to have happened after rising sea levels divided the island they inhabited, splitting the population in two (3). The Isabel naked-tailed rat has cinnamon brown fur on its back and sides and the underside is a pinkish buff colour (2). Like other members of the Solomysgenus, it has a hairless prehensile tail, strongly clawed, padded feet and four mammary glands (2).
Little is known about the biology of the Isabel naked-tailed rat. It reportedly feeds on coconuts and the nuts of the Canarium tree and (2), like other members of its genus, is believed to nest in large forest trees (2). Its nests are built from leaves and sticks inside hollow branches, offering some protection from predators (2).
The Isabel naked-tailed rat is found on only the small island of Santa Isabella in the Solomon Islands (4). It is thought that it also once inhabited nearby Malaita Island and possibly San Cristobal Island but it is now extinct from both. Its range covers most of Santa Isabella but it is becoming scarcer in the south-west of the island (1).
The most significant threat to this species is habitat loss, mainly due to commercial logging and the creation of farm land. To a lesser degree, it is also threatened by hunting by local people for food (1).
There are no currently no specific conservation projects in place for this species and more research is needed to fully understand its current conservation status (1). It is unclear whether it currently occurs in any protected areas, but suitable habitat needs to be protected if its survival is to be ensured (1).
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
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