Galapagos Rice Rat
A native species struggling against its "Ship Rat" rivals
What you need to know about the Galapagos Rice Rat
Rats are the only terrestrial mammal that arrived and settled naturally in the archipelago.
Research has revealed that there were eleven different species of rats, eight of which have now become extinct. This discovery was mainly thanks to fossils found in lava caves and tunnels in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands, as well as historical records and recent genetic studies of Galápagos rodents.
As omnivores, their diet tends to consist of a variety of fruits, seeds, invertebrates - and even the occasional egg!
Rice Rats live on both arid coastal areas and the damper, greener highlands. When trying to spot a Rice Rat, you’re more likely to see the males as they are generally much larger than the females.
Little is known about Rice Rat numbers, but they are thought to be low due to competition with the invasive Black or Ship Rat which arrived with humans five centuries ago. The Rice Rat needs protection as they are prone to catching fatal diseases from these introduced rat species potentially causing numbers to decrease further.
While they are not the most iconic of the Galápagos creatures these endemic rodents are a crucial part of the natural history of the Galápagos, and your Galapatours naturalist guide will help you to spot them on shore excursions during your amazing Galápagos cruise experience.
Galapagos Rice Rat: Interesting facts
Santa Fe and Santiago islands are two great places to spot Galápagos Rice Rats
Rice Rats are active in the evening to avoid overheating during the day
Rice Rat numbers are thought to be low due to competition from introduced rat species
They are omnivorous, and can turn most things into a meal
Galapagos Rice Rat: Pictures from our travelers
Spots where the Galapagos Rice Rat can be observed
A walk on Santa Fe
Santa Fe is a small, flat island right in the center of the Galápagos archipelago, and is thought to be one of the oldest volcanoes here. Dating of the rocks below the water estimates they were formed almost 4 million years ago.
Santa Fe had it's own breed of Giant Tortoise that became extinct at some point in the 1800s due to being hunted for meat. There are two species that are unique to the island still present here - the Santa Fe Land Iguana, and the Santa Fe Rice Rat.
There is one visitor site on Santa Fe, and you will have a panga ride to a wet landing on the beach at Barrington Bay on the island's north coast. From here there are two hiking trails. One is a short loop close to the beach that takes you into an Opuntia forest filled with these massive cactus. This is the best opportunity to see the Santa Fe land iguanas and also other species such as Galápagos Hawks.
The second trail is a tougher proposition as it climbs quite steeply to the top of a cliff from where you will enjoy stunning views over the island's unspoilt interior.
Back on the beach you can join the Galápagos Sea Lions who often play in the waves and you can enjoy some wonderful snorkeling in the clear blue-green waters here.