Uromys vika, a giant ratfour times bigger than an average city rodent, is a tree-dwelling possum-like creature that has just recently been discovered in the Solomon Islands. Rumors about this rat, however, already surfaced way back in 2010. As soon as Mammalogist Tyrone Lavery heard of it, he immediately began his search.
Meet Uromys Vika, A Huge Rat That Lives On Trees
After years of searching and racing against rampant deforestation that would obviously destroy the rat's would-be home, Lavery, alongside John Vendi and Hikuna, have finally found it.
As described in a new paper published in the Journal of Mammalogy by researchers at the Chicago's Field Museum along with Zaira Resource Management Area of the Solomon Islands, the vika is "pretty spectacular."
Half of all mammals living in the Solomons Islands can't be found anywhere else on Earth, making it a prime location for scientists, researchers, and mammalogists hoping to make groundbreaking discoveries. The country is made up of several islands found a thousand miles northwest of Australia.
Like many great researchers, scientists, and innovators, curiosity fueled Lavery. When his search for the rumored rat species yielded no results for years, he questioned whether it truly existed.
"I started to question if it really was a separate species, or if people were just calling regular black rats 'vika,'" he said.
So, why did it take such a long time to discover the creature? Well, the rat's habitat might be to blame. The search was laborious and lengthy because the species lived in 30-foot-tall trees, which meant researchers had to add a whole new dimension and angle to their search. Had vika been a ground-dwelling creature, the researchers merely had to look forward to back and left to right. It being on areas above-ground painted a wholly different scenario.
How Is Vika Different From Typical Rodents?
The new rat species is different from conventional rodents in terms of weight, length, and food choices. Normal black rats in the city weigh 200 grams, while vika can be four times heavier. It's also about a foot and a half long from the tip of its nose to the tail. As for its food, it has been known to cut holes out from nuts to get the meat.
It is the first rodent to have been discovered in the Solomon Islands after 80 years, joining creatures such as the dwarf flying fox, Guadalcanal monkey-faced bat, and a lot more who simply can't be found anywhere else.