Photo credit: Michael Barritt & Karen May
The Central Rock Rat, Zyzomys pedunculatus, is listed as ‘CRITICALLY ENDANGERED’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. This enigmatic rat is known from 14 locations in the West MacDonnell Range National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory, but has not been seen since drought and wildfire struck in 2002, and may be ‘Extinct in the Wild’.
Prior to its rediscovery in 1996, the Central Rock Rat had not been seen since 1960 and was believed to be extinct. Thus, its recent disappearance is not entirely unprecedented, and it is quite possible that the species remains undetected at low numbers. Current potential threats include fire, the spread of non-native grasses, Dingo predation, and habitat degradation due to grazing by feral herbivores.
Field surveys are urgently needed to try and relocate this species in the wild. Fortunately, captive breeding is underway at Perth Zoo and Alice Springs Desert Park, and the feasibility of reintroducing populations to parts of its range is being considered.
To learn more about the Central Rock Rat, click here. Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.
To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.