Sunday, March 29, 2009


The Cuban Solenodon, also known as the Almiqui, is an insect eating rat-like creature that lives in Cuba. As the Wikipedia entry explains these unusual looking creatures were once thought to be extinct.
16-22 inches (40-55 centimeters) long from nose to tail, the Cuban Solenodon resembles a large brown rat with an extremely elongated snout and a long, naked, scaly tail. The Cuban Solenodon was mistakenly believed extinct since the last sighting in 1999 mainly because it is a nocturnal burrower, living underground. It is therefore very rarely seen. Since its discovery in 1861 by the German naturalist Wilhelm Peters, only 36 had ever been caught. The Cuban Solenodon that was found in 2003, named Alejandrito, brought the number to 37. He weighed 24 ounces and was healthy. He was released back into the wild after two days of scientific study were completed. explains why the creature is so difficult to find -- it is nocturnal and lives underground.
It's no wonder so few have been found since then. The furry mammal is nocturnal. It stays underground during the daytime and comes up to eat worms and insects only when the sun goes down. Some scientists thought the almiqui might be extinct because none had been found since 1999.

How does a creature pull off presumed-extinct status? Well, it of course helps to have limited numbers to begin with, and a low birth rate. Add to that residence on an island under international embargo, being nocturnal, and living in burrows, and well, you've got yourself a hard to spot little ugly. I've posted on it before, but it's time to come back for more.
Though of Cuban derivation, the once-thought-extinct almiqui finds its closest relatives in the wilds of Madagascar. Also known as the Cuban Solenodon (sounds more like a dinosaur name to me), this little mammal is shrew-like and only 37 have ever been officially captured (the first one back in the 19th century). But, recent studies have shown that there are still more out there. That's important for Cubans to know, because almiquis are rare among mammals in that they have venomous saliva. Watch out.

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