Scientists have long wondered about the actual existence of giant rats in the Solomon Islands, and now, they’ve finally discovered them!
Rumours of the “vika” or the huge rats that climb trees, have circulated among the locals of the Solomon Islands, and scientists themselves have been wondering if these rumours were indeed true. Alas, they indeed are, and said a giant rat measured 46 centimetres (18 inches) long!
Mammologist Tyrone Lavery, together with his colleagues John Vendi and Hikuna Judge, discovered the mysterious rat dubbed as Uromys vika. Further details have been published in the Journal of Mammology.
According to Lavery who is a post-doctoral researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago, as well as the lead author of the research, “The new species, Uromys vika, is pretty spectacular – it’s a big, giant rat. It’s the first rat discovered in 80 years from Solomons, and it’s not like people haven’t been trying – it was just so hard to find.”
Literature has considered the Solomon Islands to be a hotspot of different kinds of uniquely weird and wonderful creatures, while geographically located in an isolated part in the South Pacific.
Lavery headed to Vangunu Island where he heard of the rumored tree-dwelling rat. His search for the rat was long and hard, and then one day, one of the rats fell out of a tree.
“As soon as I examined the specimen, I knew it was something different,” said Lavery. “There are only eight known species of native rat from the Solomon Islands, and looking at the features on its skull, I could rule out a bunch of species right away.”
After DNA tests and comparisons with other species, the rat was confirmed to be new.