The northern Luzon giant cloud rat (Phloeomys pallidus) is a nocturnal rodent. It lives primarily in the upper branches of trees in lowland tropical rainforests and montane rain forests. It can be found from sea level up to the high mountains. This rat is endemic to the island of Luzon in the Philippines, which means that it is native only to that area and is not found anywhere else.

Despite its name, this rat is not actually giant, even for a rodent. It can get up to 770 millimeters (30 inches) long and weigh up to 2.6 kilograms (5.5 pounds). It has thick fur that can be various colors, though it usually has dark brown or black markings. It has small ears and a bushy tail. The northern Luzon giant cloud rat is well adapted to live in trees, with large back feet and long claws.

It can be difficult to study this shy creature in the wild, so some information is lacking. Scientists are not entirely sure what the northern Luzon giant cloud rat eats, though they think it eats young shoots and berries. There have also been some reports of the rat raiding crops. Some of what we know about this animal comes only from observing it in captivity and may not apply to animals in the wild. For example, scientists know little about the breeding habits and longevity of the northern Luzon giant cloud rat in the wild. In captivity, these rats give birth to one young a year, and these births have occurred in almost every month. In the wild, only one pregnant rat has been seen. Captive northern Luzon giant cloud rats have been known to live up to 13 years, but there is no data on how long they live in the wild.

  1. The northern Luzon giant cloud rat is found only on the island of Luzon. Why are endemic species often found on islands?

  2. Why might the fact that the northern Luzon giant cloud rat is endemic to one island make it more vulnerable?

  3. Why might the behaviors seen in captive animals not match those of the same animal in the wild?

adapt
Verb

to adjust to new surroundings or a new situation.

breed
Verb

to produce offspring.

endemic
Adjective

native to a specific geographic space.

longevity
Noun

length or duration of a service, including usefulness or life itself.

montane
Adjective

natural region defined by upland slopes and large conifers.

nocturnal
Adjective

active at night.

rodent
Noun

order of mammals often characterized by long teeth for gnawing and nibbling.

shoot
Noun

newly sprouted plant or plant growth.