Facts About The Proboscis Mouse, A Living Fossil

The proboscis mouse is an organism that has not changed much in the last 60 million years. It is also one of the few poisonous mammals found on the planet.
Facts about the proboscis mouse, a living fossil

Read on to learn more exciting facts about the proboscis mouse!

The proboscis mouse is like a living fossil, as it has hardly changed in the last 60 million years.

There have also been two other species that have since become extinct: Solenodon arredondo  and Solenodon marcanoi. Proboscis mice are included in the order Eulipotyphla – true insect repellent.

The family consists of two living species (and two extinct) that all belong to the genus Solenodon: Cuban beaked mouse ( Solenodon cubanus ) and Haitian beaked mouse  ( Solenodon paradoxus which belongs to the Dominican Republic, Haiti & Cuba.

It gets its scientific name, Solenodon , because of its fluted teeth.

The properties and habitats of the proboscis mouse

The proboscis mouse is a species that lives endemically in the Greater Antilles. It lives only in the Caribbean on the islands of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

It generally lives in wooded areas where it can make its holes or tunnels. The proboscis mouse constructs these tunnels and holes between tree roots, under rocks or in hollow trunks.

Its fur is dark brown or black, but the shoulders and nose are white or slightly yellow. The tail, extremities and tips of the ears have no fur.

The head is characterized by a long nose, similar to a small proboscis, and the eyes are small and bright.

The proboscis mouse can measure up to 60 centimeters and weigh up to two kilograms. It has claws at the bottom of its legs with five very strong fingers that it uses to dig.

In addition to the nose, it has a long, flexible mouth that contains 40 sharp, strong teeth.

Cartoon image of a proboscis mouse

Facts about the proboscis mouse: defense mechanisms

This is an animal that is more active at night and spends the days sleeping. It likes to be alone and is very difficult to catch.

Although it moves rather strangely in an awkward zigzag motion, it is actually very fast. It moves in this way so as not to become a prey for predators.

The proboscis mouse makes sounds similar to other animals when scared. To communicate with each other, they make sounds similar to birds (screaming).

It has a terribly poor eyesight; so bad that it is almost considered blind. But it has an incredibly well-developed sense of smell. This allows it to maneuver to take care of its daily tasks.

A female has two mammary glands that are very close to the base of the tail. She also has glands in her groin and armpits, from which she emits an unpleasant odor to scare away her enemies.

The proboscis mouse is one of the few poisonous mammals. On each side of the lower jaw it has an extra front tooth with a toxic gland.

This gland releases toxins which it then uses to defend itself against its enemies and kill its prey. The proboscis mouse can even use the venom to kill other males during mating.

The poison is not fatal to humans, but it does cause significant pain.

Diet and reproduction

The proboscis mouse is a true insectivore, which means that it mainly feeds on insects. However, insects are not the only thing it eats.

Sometimes it supplements its diet with small reptiles, worms, crabs, frogs and even fruit. It uses its sense of smell and its claws to get its food. It finds its prey by digging or destroying rotten logs.

A male faces the possibility of dying when he mates with a female. When the pregnancy is over, a female can have two litters per year.

She gives birth to between one and three offspring that weigh between 40 and 55 grams at birth.

If she gives birth to three puppies, only two will survive because the mother only has two mammary glands. A female breastfeeds her offspring for 75 days.

During this period, the offspring can either become independent or choose to stay longer in the mother’s burrow.

Proboscis mouse wanders in a forest.

Facts about the proboscis mouse: conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the proboscis mouse as an endangered species. This is mainly due to the destruction of its natural habitat and its low reproduction rate.

These are just the biggest current threats to the proboscis mouse. However, other species introduced into the areas of the proboscis mouse, such as dogs, ferrets, cats and other animals, have also contributed to its declining population.

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