Deep in the jungle of Papua New Guinea a BBC expedition team have discovered a new species of giant rat.
The rat which has no fear of humans measures a massive 82cm long and weighs in at around 1.5kg. There are bigger rats in the world but few can match the new species. This is a true rat, a genus Rattus so comes from the same family as the urban brown and black rats.
It was discovered by an expedition team who are in the jungle filming the BBC programme ‘Lost Land of the Volcano’. The rat is just one of the exotic animals found by the expedition team. As with the other exotic species it is believed that the rat lives within the Mount Bosavi crater and nowhere else.
The expedition team first captured the creature foraging around on the jungle floor when they were filming with an infrared camera which had been set up to watch for wildlife by BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan. The expedition team who are from the BBC Natural History Unit were awed by the creature’s size. They later went on to catch a live specimen which had no fear of the humans around and in fact behaved and is about the same size as your average to small common cat.
The rat has a silver-brown coat of thick long fur, which the scientists who examined it believe may help it survive the wet and cold conditions that can occur within the high volcano crater.
It has provisionally been called the Bosavi woolly rat, while its scientific name has yet to be agreed.
Mount Bosavi, where the new rat was found, is an extinct volcano that lies deep in the remote Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
The island which includes Papua New Guinea and New Guinea is famous for the number and diversity of the rats and mice that live there.
Over 57 species of true “Murid” rats and mice can be found on the island. The larger rats are often caught by hunters and eaten.
According to the BBC website The Lost Land of the Volcano series will begin on BBC One on Tuesday 8 September at 2100 BST. The discovery of the Bosavi woolly rat is broadcast as part of the series on BBC One on Tuesday 22 September.