Isarog’s endemic rodent – Are you aware that there’s a species of rat exclusively found in the mossy and montane forest of Mt. Isarog? The Mt. Isarog hairy-tailed rat (Batomys uragon).
The Mt. Isarog hairy-tailed rat was formally described as new species in 2015, but did you know that the first specimen was collected in 1988 by a team headed by mammologist Lawrence Heaney and was initially identified as Batomys granti?
The reclassification of B. uragon from B. granti was after the conduct of the morphological and genetic studies from the specimens collected from Northern Luzon and Mt. Isarog in Bicol. The late Bicolano Biologist Danilo Balete was also a member of the research team.
This species is a member of the cloud rat family. They are light to dark brown in color and characterized by a tail that measures almost half of its body and covered with hairs. They are medium-sized rats that weigh about 160-220 grams. They have a narrow ring of bare skin around the eye, which is present in all species. They are granivorous (seed-eating) – frugivorous (fruit-eating) rats.
The Mt. Isarog hairy-tailed rats are good climbers and are nocturnal species. They inhabit the montane and mossy forest of Mt. Isarog at an elevation of 1350 to 1800 meters above sea level.
The Mt. Isarog hairy-tailed rat is just one of the endemic species that inhabits Mt. Isarog and the nearby mountains in the Bicol Peninsula. Other endemic species include the Isarog shrew-mouse (Archboldomys luzonensis,), Isarog striped shrew-rat (Chrotomys gonzalesi), and the Isarog shrew-rat (Rhynchomys isarogensis).