Rufous Tree Rat

A new mammal to the Costa Rician rainforest has been found! Believed to be only in Ecuador, Colombia, and Central Panamá The Rufous Tree Rat (Diplomys labilis) has been discovered high in the canopies of the Osa Peninsula thanks to the efforts and keen eyes of The BioSur Foundation researchers.

The Rufous Tree Rat is a fascinating arboreal mammal that lives high in the treetops of tropical rainforest. They have prehensile tails allowing them to thrive in the canopies of the Osa Peninsula. During previous field work the BioSur Foundation did not come across the Rufous Tree Rat because they are nocturnal sleeping within a trench of the trunks near the crown of the trees.

The initial sighting was in the morning of a single female; coursed amber colored hair that covers the body, though their face is covered in much darker hair. Larger than other arboreal rats, with a shorter snout and white facial patterns above each eye as well as behind the ears. Their Ears are short and wide in appearance and match the color of their face.

Their prehensile tails are dark brown in pigment and have a small portion of hair throughout. The tail of the Rufous Tree Rat can grow as long as their entire body.

The Rufous Tree Rat can be observed sleeping in the cavities of trees allowing the sun to heat their hair during warm clear days. However, the Rufous Tree Rats are not seen at all during days that are colder with more cloud cover, they are nestled inside the trees covered with foliage.

There is so much that is still unknown about the Osa Peninsula’s newest mammal. The BioSur Foundation team has observed that the young of the Rufous Tree Rat stays with their mother for at least six months before venturing out on their own. However, the term of this arboreal mammal’s pregnancy is still unspecified.  The Rufous Tree Rat’s specific food source is mostly unrevealed; however, they are known to share similar traits in diet to other arboreal rats which consist of vegetation in the trees. Discovering the new habitat of the Rufous Tree Rat is one of the greatest examples of why tropical rainforest conservation is so important, there is so much untapped knowledge in the Osa Peninsula. Protecting not just the Osa Peninsula but conserving all tropical rainforest will allow future generations their opportunity at new discoveries and raise the bio-literacy rate of the world.

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