Insular cave rat

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Insular cave rat
Temporal range: Holocene
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Echimyidae
Genus: Heteropsomys
H. insulans
Binomial name
Heteropsomys insulans
Anthony, 1916

The insular cave rat (Heteropsomys insulans) is an extinct species of spiny rat native to Puerto Rico.

Species and description[edit]

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.


  1. ^ Turvey, S. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Heteropsomys insulans". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2009.