Mice, rats, hedgehogs, solenodons, moles, muskrats … gross and frightening, cute and cuddly, or just plain cool?!
Today, we want to talk about the little mammals. The ones that most people don’t know much about. Let’s change that. Let’s all get excited about small mammals!
To small mammal researchers, the smallest mammals are just as exciting and charismatic as their bigger cousins like giraffes, elephants, bears, and tigers. Small mammals look cool and they do interesting things. They are an important part of the ecosystems where they live.
Unfortunately, though, these little mammals don’t get as much attention in books, news, and other types of media as the larger mammals. There is often less money to support small mammal research and conservation as well.
A new study is looking to change this! The study has helped map the conservation status of two groups of small mammals called Rodentia and Eulipotyphla. The authors of the study located places around the world where these animals need extra research and attention. This is an important conservation step.
Some members of the small mammal group, Rodentia:
There are currently 2,231 known rodent species.
Bobisbob, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Some members of the small mammal group, Eulipotyphla:
There are currently 454 known eulipotyphlan species.
Eulipotyphla. Clockwise from upper left: a solenodon, hedgehog, mole and shrew. Rodentia and Eulipotyphla together contain nearly half of all known mammal species. Image via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The researchers identified hotspots, or important areas for protecting these mammals. For the rodents, some hotspots are found in Mexico, the Cameroon Highlands, the Southwestern Ghats in India, Sri Lanka, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Java.
For the eulipotyphlan species, some hotspots are found in Cameroon, the Albertine Rift (which covers parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda), Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and the Southwestern Ghats in India.
Rosalind J. Kennerley, the lead author of the study says: “We’d like to see more people both choosing to do research on small mammals and of course taking part in active conservation efforts to conserve them.”
Maybe you can do just that! Do research online or go to your local library and search books on hedgehogs, shrews, moles, mice, and rats.
Let’s all pledge to learn more about these special little mammals.
Based on an original article from Mongabay.com:
The scientific paper about the small mammals:
Kennerley, R. J., Lacher Jr., T. E., Hudson, M. A., Long, B., McCay, S. D., Roach, N. S., … Young, R. P. (2021). Global patterns of extinction risk and conservation needs for Rodentia and Eulipotyphla. Diversity and Distributions, 27(9), 1792-1806. doi:10.1111/ddi.13368