Temporal range: Pleistocene–Recent 
Solenodons (meaning "slotted-tooth") are venomous, nocturnal, burrowing, insectivorous mammals belonging to the family Solenodontidae. Only one genus, Solenodon, is known, although a few other genera were erected at one time and are now regarded as junior synonyms. Solenodontidae is interesting to phylogenetics researchers because of its retention of primitive mammal characteristics; their species resemble very closely those that lived near the end of the age of the dinosaurs. They are one of two families of Caribbean soricomorphs; it is uncertain whether the other family, Nesophontidae, which went extinct during the Holocene, was closely related to solenodons.
The two living solenodon species are the Cuban solenodon (Solenodon cubanus), and the Haitian or Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus). Two other species went extinct during the Quaternary. Oligocene North American genera, such as Apternodus, have been suggested as relatives of Solenodon, but the origins of the animal remain obscure.
Solenodons resemble very large shrews, and are often compared to them; with extremely elongated cartilaginous snouts, long, naked, scaly tails, small eyes, and coarse, dark brown to black hair. The snout is flexible and, in the Hispaniola solenodon, actually has a ball-and-socket joint at the base to increase its mobility. This allows the animal to investigate narrow crevices where potential prey may be hiding. Solenodons range from 28 to 32 cm (11 to 13 in) from nose to rump, and weigh between 0.7 and 1.0 kg (1.5 and 2.2 lb). They are known to be very easily agitated and may squeal or bite with little or no provocation.
Solenodons have a few intriguing traits, two of them being the position of the two teats on the female, almost on the buttocks of the animal, and the second being the venomous saliva that flows from modified salivary glands in the mandible through grooves on the second lower incisors ("solenodon" derives from the Greek "grooved tooth"). Solenodons are among a handful of venomous mammals.
West Indian Natives have long known about the venomous character of the Solenodon bite. Scientific studies on the nature of the tiny mammal's saliva show that it is very similar neurotoxically to the venom of certain snakes. Solenodons create venom in enlarged submaxillary glands, and only inject venom through their bottom set of teeth. The symptoms of a Solenodon bite include general depression, breathing difficulty, paralysis, and convulsions; large enough doses have resulted in death in lab studies on mice.
Their diets consist largely of insects, earthworms, and other invertebrates, but they also eat vertebrate carrion, and perhaps even some living vertebrate prey, such as small reptiles or amphibians. Solenodons have a relatively unspecialised, and almost complete dentition, with a dental formula of:184.108.40.206.
The Solenodon has olfactory senses that are used to find food by sniffing the ground till it comes upon its prey. If the prey is small enough, the Solenodon will consume it immediately. After coming across the prey, the Solenodon will bring the forelimbs up to either side of the prey and then move the head forward, opening the jaw and properly catching its prey (4). While sniffing for food, the Solenodon has the ability to get through physical barriers with the help of the sharp claws that is possesses.
There has been research that suggests that Males and Females of the species have different eating habits. The female has a habit of scattering the food to make sure that no morsel of food is missed as it is foraging (4). The male was noted to use its tongue to lap up the food and using the lower job as a scoop (4). It is important to note that these individual specimens were studied in captivity, the possibility exists that these may not be the exact behaviors that will be found in the wild.
Solenodons give birth in a nesting burrow, to one or two young. The young remain with the mother for several months, and initially follow the mother about by hanging on to her elongated teats. Once they reach adulthood, solenodons are solitary animals, which rarely interact except to breed.
Both species became endangered because of predation by the small Asian mongoose (specifically Herpestes javanicus auropunctatus), which was introduced in colonial times to hunt snakes and rats, as well as by feral cats and dogs. The Cuban solenodon was thought to have been extinct until a live specimen was found in 2003. Marcano's solenodon (Solenodon marcanoi) went extinct in the Holocene. The Hispaniolan solenodon was also once thought to be extinct, probably more because of its secretive and elusive behavior than to low population numbers. Recent studies have proven the species is widely distributed through the island of Hispaniola, but it does not tolerate habitat degradation.
A 1981 study of the Solenodon in Haiti found that the species was “functionally extinct,” with the exception of a small population in the area of Massif de la Hotte. A follow-up study, in 2007, noted that the Solenodon was still thriving in the area, even though the region has had an increase in human population density in recent years.
Human activity has also had an adverse effect on the Solenodon population. Human development on Cuba and Hispanola has resulted in fragmentation and habitat loss, further contributing to the reduction of the Solenodon's range and numbers.
- Hutterer, R. (2005). "Order Soricomorpha". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 222–223. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Savage, RJG, & Long, MR (1986). Mammal Evolution: an illustrated guide. New York: Facts on File. p. 51. ISBN 0-8160-1194-X.
- Nicoll, Martin (1984). In Macdonald, D. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 748–749. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.
- Ligabue-Braun, Rodrigo; Hugo Verli, Célia Regina Carlini (2012). "Venomous Mammals: A Review". Toxicon 59 (7): 680–695. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- Eisenberg, J.F.; G. Edwin (1966). "The Behavior of Solenodon paradoxus in Captivity with Comments on the Behavior of other Insectivora". Zoologica 51 (4): 49–60. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- Turvey, S. T.; Meredith, H. M. R., Scofield, R. P (2008). "Continued survival of hispaniolan solenodon solenodon paradoxus in haiti". Oryx 42 (4): 611–614. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
- Cohn, Jeffrey P. (February 2010). "Opening Doors to Research in Cuba". Bioscience 60 (2): 97. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
- The Last Survivors Project  Updated news on Caribbean Mammals Conservation Project
- Entry at Animal Diversity Web
- Morelle, Rebecca (2009-01-09), Venomous mammal caught on camera (video), BBC News, retrieved 2010-05-31
- Scent of a solenodon: On the trail of a living fossil (video), BBC News, 2010-05-30, retrieved 2010-05-30
- EDGE of Existence "(Cuban solenodon)" Saving the World's most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species
- EDGE of Existence "(Hispaniolan solenodon)" Saving the World's most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species
- BBC News 1 June 2010 The cave of bones: A story of solenodon survival
- BBC News 2 June 2010 Close encounter with a bizarre venomous beast