Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat (Phloeomys cumingi)

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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat on branch
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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat fact file

Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderRodentia
FamilyMuridae
GenusPhloeomys (1)

Although the word ‘rat’ may conjure up an image of an unattractive, disease-ridden rodent, the southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat, with its long, furry tail and large eyes, is a charming, shy, squirrel-like animal (3). Its rather rough fur, interspersed with longer hairs (4) (5), is typically dark brown (6). Captive specimens may be reddish, possibly due to their diet (7). It has a blunt muzzle and small ears covered with long fur on the outer side (4). The large feet bearing large claws are highly suited to a life in the trees (5).

Also known as
Cuming’s slender-tailed cloud rat, slender-tailed cloud rat, southern Luzon giant cloud rat, Southern Luzon rind rat.
Size
Total length: 670 – 750 mm (2)
Tail length: 270 – 315 mm (2)
Weight
1.5 – 2 kg (2)
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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat biology

Equally at home high amongst the branches of a tree as on the forest floor (4), the southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat is a slow-moving animal (5), that is only active at night, spending the day in hollow trees or logs (10). It usually lives singly, or in pairs consisting of an adult male and female, or a female and her young, but larger groups have also been seen (6). Their diet consists primarily of tender, young leaves (6), but fruit is also reportedly eaten (2).

The southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat typically gives birth to a single young each year, with data indicating that most births take place during the late rainy season (6). The young is born in the hollow of a standing or fallen tree, or in a hole in the ground (8). The mother carries her young firmly attached to a nipple. In captivity, one cloud rat lived for over 13 years (5).

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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat range

Endemic to the Philippines, this cloud rat is found in the southern half of Luzon (8) (9), and on the island of Catanduanes (6). It has also been reported from the island of Marinduque, but there are no recent investigations of its existence there (8) (9).

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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat habitat

The southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat inhabits lowland forests, from sea level up to around 900 metres. It can be found in both intact and disturbed forest (8), but apparently requires areas where there are large hollow logs or trees in which to nest (10).

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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat threats

The southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat has a more restricted and fragmented distribution than the closely related Northern Luzon giant cloud rat (Phloeomys pallidus) (5), making it more vulnerable to any threats it may face. This cloud rat is hunted by local people for food (4) (5), with some people claiming to catch up to 50 individuals in some years (2). The southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat may also be impacted by habitat degradation and destruction as vast swathes of forest in the Philippines have been subject to commercial logging (2), although this species does seem able to persist in agricultural areas (8).

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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat conservation

There are several national parks and other protected areas within the range of the southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat. Philippine law does not permit hunting of this species, except by indigenous people using traditional methods (7). It has been suggested that the priority conservation measure for this species is the protection of the largest remaining area of forest in southern Luzon, around Mount Isarog; a measure which would also protect many other species endemic to the island (8).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on conservation in the Philippines see:

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Authentication

Authenticated (28/08/08) by Dr Lawrence Heaney, Curator and Head of the Division of Mammals, The Field Museum, Chicago.

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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Nocturnal
Active at night.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Heaney, L.R., Balete, D.S., Rickart, E.A., Utzurrum, R.C.B. and Gonzales, P.C. (1999) Mammalian diversity on Mount Isarog, a threatened center of endemism on Southern Luzon Island, Philippines. Fieldiana Zoology, 95: 1 - 62.
  3. Heaney, L.R. and Regalado Jr, J.C. (1998) Vanishing Treasures of the Philippine Rain Forest. The Field Museum, Chicago.
  4. Rabor, D.S. (1986) Guide to Philippine Flora and Fauna. Natural Resources Management Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and University of the Philippines, Philippines.
  5. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  6. Heaney, L.R., Gonzales, P.C., Utzurrum, R.C.B. and Rickart, E.A. (1991) The mammals of Catanduanes Island: implications for the biogeography of small land-bridge islands in the Philippines. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 104(2): 399 - 415.
  7. Heaney, L.R. (2008) Pers. comm.
  8. Oliver, W.L.R., Cox, C.R., Gonzales, P.C. and Heaney, L.R. (1993) Cloud rats in the Philippines – preliminary report on distribution and status. Oryx, 27(1): 41 - 48.
  9. 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. Available at:
    http://www.fieldmuseum.org/philippine_mammals
  10. Rickart, E. (2008) Pers. comm.
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Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat on branch  
Southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat on branch

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