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The Flores Giant Rat is a species of rat found on the Indonesian island of Flores. While these rats may live on an island named “Flower” in Portuguese, they are anything but flowery, averaging around twice the size of your basic brown rat, and sometimes getting even bigger. These rats are found nowhere else on Earth, making the preservation of their habitat on Flores crucial, in the eyes of biologists who wish to preserve the Flores Giant Rat.
Like many animals with a limited range, the Flores Giant Rat is considered “vulnerable” by biologists, meaning that it could become threatened or endangered in the future if it is not adequately protected now. Vulnerable species are not always entitled to protections under the law, but the vulnerable status is a red flag to biologists and researchers to keep an eye on the population of the animals, and to study them further. Several studies have attempted to learn more about the Flores Giant Rat, and there has been some discussion of establishing breeding colonies.
These rats have very dark, dense hair, with body types which seem to suggest that they are adapted to living on the ground. They tend to be very compact, with small rounded ears and a tail which can vary widely in length. Like other rats, the Flores Giant Rat has articulated toes, which it can use to grasp and manipulate objects in its natural environment.
These animals appear to be omnivorous, eating primarily leaves, seeds, and insects. Studies on the dentition of the Flores Giant Rat seem to suggest that their large molars are designed specifically for a primarily vegetable-based diet. The rats bear small litters of young known as kits, which are raised by the parents until they are able to live independently.
Formally, the Flores Giant Rat is known as Papagomys armandvillei, and these animals share their environment with another famous Indonesian native, the Komodo Dragon. These rats are an interesting example of a phenomenon known as “island gigantism,” in which species of animals isolated on islands diverge radically from their counterparts elsewhere, becoming quite large. This may be because the animals grow to fill an evolutionary niche which is occupied by other large animals on the continents.