Labo Shrew-Rat

labo shrew-rat
Labo Shrew-Rat | National Museum Bicol (@nmbicol) via Illustration: Velizar Simeonovski, Field Museum Chicago

Labo Shrew-Rat


For our Bicol Biodiversity, we give you another reason to be proud of our country’s natural history. Did you know that there is a species of rat found ONLY IN MT. LABO?

From 2006 to 2008, a team of researchers, including the late Bicolano biologist Danilo Balete collected a unique rat species during their field survey in Mt. Labo. In 2019, scientists identified and confirmed that this is a new species called the Labo shrew-rat (Rhynchomys labo). These endemic species specifically inhabit the forested areas on the north slope between 1,250 and 1,413 meters. They form and patrol mini trails along the moss-lined highlands, clearing leaves, and scouting for food during the day and night.

This species is a member of the Muridae family and is distinguished by its long snouts and tiny teeth, which pick worms and other soft-bodied invertebrates from the ground. This medium-sized murid has dark brownish-grey dorsal hair extending down onto the head’s side, upper arms, and outer thighs. They have entirely white hair from the throat to the inguinal region, grading light grey on the upper throat, chin, and inner thighs. They have dark grey ears covered with short black hair and thinly-line eyelids in black with a narrow pale ring.

The Labo shrew-rat is one of the endemic shrew-rats that cannot be found anywhere else in the world except the Philippines. The other endemic species include the R. soricoides, R. isarogensis, R. banahao, R. tapula, and R. mingan.

This discovery reveals that Bicol has rich biodiversity and Mt. Labo provides a healthy ecosystem to support life forms. Although Labo shrew-rat inhabits the highland, it also requires protection from direct overexploitation of forest resources and other harmful human activities. Conservation and preservation of its habitat, such as Mt. Labo, is essential to protecting our species’ diversity.

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