Discovery of a chinchilla rat in Machu Picchu


Tony Hakim's Chinchilla rat

This cute little guy was thought to be extinct. Via Tony Hakim

Here at Tony Hakim we are very excited about the discovery of a chinchilla rat in Machu Picchu. The Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat was believed to be extinct long ago until one was spotted by some park guards in 2009. A field study was organised and started in 2012 and it has now been revealed that this chinchilla rat does indeed exist.

The Machu Picchu chinchilla rat (Cuscomys oblativa) is a mammal that is about the size of a cat and lives primarily in trees. This animal was thought to have become extinct hundreds of years ago and prior to this discovery, the only evidence of its existence was skulls that were found in some Incan pottery.

Tony Hakim's Chinchilla rat

Machu Picchu, the home of this chinchilla rat, is an amazing place. Via Tony Hakim

The chinchilla rat was found in the cloud forests of Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail near Wi├▒ayhuayna. This was a difficult field study to undertake for scientists, mainly because of the terrain they had to cover. Machu Picchu has extremely steep hills, some with slopes of 60 degrees. There is also the difficulty of working at such high altitudes and also plenty of leafy vegetation to wade through.

It was up in this environment that they found the Machu Picchu chinchilla rat, which confirms that they were never extinct. However it is believed that their population is very low and they are probably an endangered species. The reason for their low numbers is likely to be a result of the destruction of their habitat. The areas forests have been largely destroyed due to cattle grazing and other agriculture. Fortunately however, a number of the Machu Picchu chinchilla rat was found living in the protected areas of Machu Picchu. This gives them a better chance of continuing survival as long as they remain in these national park and sanctuary areas.

Along with this chinchilla rat, the field study also resulted in the discovery of six more new species. Here at Tony Hakim, we are always pleased to hear about positive discoveries in the animal world.

Tony Hakim's Chinchilla rat

The Machu Picchu chinchilla rat is about the size of a cat. Via Tony Hakim



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