Pennatomys nivalis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Cricetidae

Scientific Name: Pennatomys nivalis Turvey, Weksler, Morris & Nokkert, 2010
Common Name(s):
English Nevis Rice Rat, St. Eustatius Rice Rat, St. Kitts Rice Rat

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-07-12
Assessor(s): Turvey, S.T. & Collen, B.
Reviewer(s): Wilson, D.E. & Amori, G.
The Nevis Rice Rat has never been definitely reported extant during the European historical period. However, it is known to have survived until almost immediately prior to European arrival in the Caribbean, suggesting strongly that pre-Columbian human impacts did not cause its disappearance and that it persisted into the historical period. Several reports of rats being eaten on Nevis and St. Kitts, in one instance of animals specifically described as “unusual-looking” (i.e. suggesting a difference from introduced black rats), have been reported from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and twentieth centuries, until the 1930s, and may well represent this species. However, several weeks of survey work in 2009 (involving live trapping with Sherman and Tomahawk traps) at various elevations in the forests of Nevis Peak found no evidence of the Nevis Rice Rat’s continued survival, and instead discovered very high densities of invasive mongoose and black rats throughout the island’s forests (Turvey unpublished data). The species is therefore assessed as Extinct.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Nevis Rice Rat formerly occurred on the three main islands of the Saint Kitts Bank (Nevis, Saint Kitts and Saint Eustatius). It has been recorded from numerous pre-Columbian zooarchaeological sites, as it constituted a major component of the diet of prehistoric Amerindians.
Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Sint Eustatius); Saint Kitts and Nevis
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is now extinct.
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Nothing is known about this species’ habitat or ecology. This island rice rat was about the same size as a black rat, and therefore much smaller than Megalomys, the other recently extinct endemic insular Caribbean rice rat genus.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species was widely exploited by Amerindians for food during the recent prehistoric period, but its continued presence in kitchen middens dating closely before European arrival in the Caribbean c.500 years ago suggests that this exploitation did not seriously impact its population. Animals specifically identified as rats, and therefore possibly representing this species, were described as providing “good meat” on St. Kitts (Harlow 1925), and in 1720 it was reported that “in Nevis some people do eat Rats, wrapping them up in banano-leaves to bake them as it were under warm embers” (Merrill 1958). There are reports of unusual-looking rats occurring on Nevis and being eaten by inhabitants of the island until the 1930s (Turvey et al. 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The cause of extinction of the Nevis Rice Rat is unknown. However, its survival until the European historical era suggests that its extinction may have been driven by predation or competition with invasive mammals, probably introduced black rats or mongoose.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is Extinct.

Citation: Turvey, S.T. & Collen, B. 2011. Pennatomys nivalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T199838A9129524. . Downloaded on 18 August 2018.
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