Conservation charity, Dartmoor Zoo, has welcomed two Northern Luzon Giant Cloud rats from Chester Zoo. The exciting new arrivals are a brand-new species for Dartmoor Zoo, and are only found at four other zoos in the UK.
Since arriving on 12 December 2019, the rodents have been settling into their new enclosure in the former falconry hut, which has been renovated especially for their arrival, to include heating, new lighting, nest boxes and lots of branches for climbing. The sibling pair, one male and one female, are yet to be named. In the near future, keepers are looking to exchange one of the cloud rats with a rat from another collection to form an unrelated pair for breeding.
Unlike the well-known black rat, the giant cloud rats have long rough fur that is a blend of white to pale grey, with dark brown or black markings on the face and body. They are also almost double the size of black rats. The forest-dwelling species have large hind feet and long claws which make them excellent climbers. In the wild, their population which inhabits the island of Luzon in the Philippines is threatened by high rates of deforestation. *
Coral Jonas, deputy CEO at Dartmoor Zoo commented: “We are very lucky to have two Northern Luzon Giant Cloud rats at Dartmoor Zoo, and it’s especially exciting as we have the option of breeding them. By swapping one of the siblings in the future, we will hopefully be able to expand the population of this rare and fascinating species in the UK. The sibling pair have been at the zoo for over a month now and their personalities are already shining through! They are both growing in confidence and are hand fed long vegetable batons by the keepers – their favourite is baby sweetcorn. They usually get on very well and can often be seen resting together in the nest box. From time to time, they do have a little squabble if one of them takes a piece of food away from the other, as they don’t like sharing very much.
“We are delighted to be able to give them a place to call home and to educate and inspire the general public about wildlife conservation and improve captive animal management by providing a safe environment for animals under threat in the wild.”
Dartmoor Zoo was established in 2007 when Benjamin Mee and his family bought an ailing zoo. Since then, Ben, his family and team have built the Zoo into the popular tourist attraction it is today. Ben wrote a book about his experience and in 2011 it was made into the Hollywood Film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ starring Matt Damon. In 2014, Ben Mee kindly donated the zoo to the Dartmoor Zoological Society charity. Today the Zoo is heavily involved in research, conservation and education projects to promote the welfare of animals and to enrich both the lives of humans and animals.