Friday, August 12, 2011

Plains Viscacha Rat

Tympanotomys barrerae
This little South American Rat may look unremarkable on the outside, but on the inside it is really something special. Plains Viscacha Rats have more diploid chromosomes than any other mammal, a whopping 102! Humans, to contrast, have only 46!

Plains Viscacha Rats are found in only one small bit of Argentina, where habitat loss has caused the species to go into a population decline. They live in very dry, sandy or scrubland areas where they build complex burrows underground. The rats are nocturnal, and spend the warm daytime in these subterranean homes.

Plains Viscacha Rats are herbivores that feed primary on plants that thrive in salty areas. In order to counteract the salt, the rats have hairs on the sides of their mouths that help to scrape off excess salt, as well as kidneys that can process the higher levels.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : Argentina
Size : Length up to 4.5in (12cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Rodentia
Family : Octodontidae -- Genus : Tympanoctomys -- Species : T. barrerae

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