Insular cave rat
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|Insular cave rat|
Temporal range: Holocene
Species and description
Spiny rats are a group of hystricognath rodents in the family Echimyidae. They are distributed from Central America through much of South America. They were also found in the West Indies until the 1800s. Most species have stiff pointed hairs, or a bristly coat of flat flexible spines that allow for protection. Many echimyids can break off their tails when attacked. This action confuses predators long enough for the animal to escape. Unlike lizards, however, the tail of spiny rats does not regenerate. This technique can obviously be used only once in each individual's lifetime. This species most likely did not do well in conditions of high heat and aridity and are restricted to regions with an abundant source of water.
These rats were almost exclusively herbivorous. Their diet most likely included fruits, nuts, grass, and sugar cane. Several species, including Rato de Taquara, eat only bamboo shoots and leaves.
- Turvey, S.T.; Oliver, J.R.; Storde, Y.M. Narganes; Rye, P. "Late Holocene extinction of Puerto Rican native land mammals". PMC 2375922. Missing or empty
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- "Heteropsomys insulans". The IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
- "New fossil rodents from Porto Rico; with additional notes on Elasmodontomys obliquus Anthony and Heteropsomys insulans Anthony". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 37. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
- "Heteropsomys insulans : insular cave rat : classification". Retrieved 2012-06-15.
- "Spiny Rats: Echimyidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Spiny Rat (proechimys Semispinosus): Species Account - Geographic Range, Diet, Spiny Rats and People, Conservation Status". Retrieved 2012-06-15.
- "American spiny rat". Britannica. Retrieved 2012-06-15.