This Cute Rodent Looks Like a Tiny Panda and Is Only Found in the Philippines
The world’s cutest rodent species can be found in the Philippines, and they’re thriving in the sanctuary protected by Masungi Georeserve. Cloudrunners aka cloud rats, are unique to the Philippines. One particular species is relatively new to science—the Northern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat.
In the 2022 Watershed Expedition led by Masungi Georeserve and the government of Canada, scientists documented one Northern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat living among the canopy of the forest.
“During the expedition, the cloud rats, which typically weigh two to three kilos, wasted no time to show themselves to the research team, being spotted on multiple nights along the Researcher's Quarters,” Masungi Georeserve wrote.
The cloudrunners spend most of their lives in trees in cloud forests, hence the alternative name “cloud rat.” A cloud forest is also called a water forest and is generally wet or moist because of the frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover.
Cloudrunners or cloud rats eat mostly raw fruit, nuts, or seeds. They are nocturnal and arboreal, which means they stay mostly on top of trees.
Critically Endangered Cloudrunners
Although Masungi Georeserve is tirelessly fighting against land grabbers and criminals seeking to destroy the forest sanctuary for personal gain, the fight is not without losses.
Highly endemic species to the Philippines like the cloudrunner remain vulnerable. Aside from habitat loss, poaching is also a threat to the rodent’s survival. According to the Masungi, cloud rats are also hunted for their meat.
To this day, Masungi is constantly facing deforestation and poaching. In 2020 alone, Masungi’s project managers and trustees Ann and Billie Dumaliang had to defend the Georeserve from at least five land grabbing attempts.
Luzon island has the world’s highest concentration of unique mammal species, many of which are found in the 400-hectare sanctuary that is Masungi Georeserve.