1850

Carpentarian rock rat

Australia

1850

Zyzomys palatalis

Endangered

  • Habitat disturbance and degradation
  • Frequent fires
  • Invasive plants
  • Predatory animals

The Carpentarian Rock Rat, an Australian endemic rodent species, is named after the gulf in Queensland where it was discovered. This nocturnal mammal inhabits boulder-fields, sandstone gorges, and cave crevices at least one hundred metres in distance of permanent water sources like springs and streams.

Adults usually weigh a little over 100 grams and have a carrot-shaped tail used for fat storage. They generally have a 1:1 sex ratio in a population, with females giving birth to up to three rat pups at a time. They do not have a long lifespan, usually unable to live for more than one or two years.

Because of the highly specialised habitat requirement of the Carpentarian Rock Rat, any change or alteration to its natural environment can seriously lead to population decline and extinction. They are also very sensitive to heat, which is why those dry season fires can also be a major culprit for continued decrease in number.

Uncontrolled growth of weeds and plants in its immediate surroundings encourages the grazing of feral herbivores which can expose the rats to trampling, not to mention destroy its natural habitat characteristics.