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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos creatures these endemic rodents are a crucial part of the natural history of the Galapagos, and your Galapatours naturalist guide will help you to spot them on shore excursions during your amazing Galapagos cruise experience.
Fast Facts about the Galapagos Rice Rat
- Santa Fe and Santiago islands are two great places to spot Galapagos 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