Thursday, October 28, 2021

This Species of Giant Rats Live in the Cloud Forests of Mt. Pulag

About three years ago, I joined a climbing party to the summit of Mt. Pulag in Kabayan, Benguet. One of the things I immediately noticed about the place was the unnerving silence. It seemed so devoid of animal life. The grasslands. The patches of shrubs here and there. The cloud forests. They are magnificent examples of the region's flora. But there didn't seem to be any animal life around.

Well, suffice it to say that I had the wrong assumptions. Apparently, the cloud forests of Mt. Pulag are teeming with animal life. It's just that these creatures are masters of living discreetly and away from prying human eyes. Among these unique creatures is the Northern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat (Phloeomys pallidus). This is a large species of rodent that can only be found in Luzon. They can't be found anywhere else in the world.

Mature giant cloud rats weigh between 1.5 to 2.6 kilograms and can reach lengths of up to 2 and a half feet (tail included). Like most rodents, the giant cloud rat is nocturnal. This species hasn't been deeply studied so very little is known about their eating and breeding habits in the wild. 

Equipped with long claws and large back feet, the giant cloud rat is well-suited to living up in the trees. They primarily spend their time up in the trees but they also occasionally go down to the forest floor to either look for food or a place to give birth to their young.

In 2008, a research team from the Field Museum in Chicago conducted a biological survey in Mt. Pulag. Led by Dr. Lawrence Heaney, the team was able to catch and take pictures of a giant cloud up in Mt. Pulag.

The giant cloud rat has been seen in at least 12 provinces in Luzon. In fact, they are often hunted for food by people living in the Sierra Madre. Because the species is still quite common in the wild, they are not considered endangered nor threatened. 


Mike Peel (Creative Commons)