Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima are home to rodents that are designated national natural monuments and found in no other place on earth.
Amami Spiny Rat (Tokudaia osimensis)
Lives only on Amami Oshima. Almost entirely covered with 2 cm-long spiny hair, the rodent propels itself by jumping using both front and hind legs simultaneously. Living in symbiosis with the habu pit viper (Protobothrops flavoviridis) is a trait of the species. From head to torso, the spiny rat is 89 – 160 mm, with a tail as long as 61 – 135 mm.
Tokunoshima Spiny Rat Tokudaia tokunoshimensis
Lives only on Tokunoshima. Once categorized in 2 subspecies as the Okinawa Spiny RatTokudaia muenninki and the Amami Spiny Rat, but each were designated unique species in 2006. The animal has stiff, spiny hair and an exceptional ability to jump.
Ryukyu Long-Haired Rat (Diplothrix legata)
Ryukyu Long-Haired Rat (Diplothrix legata) is the largest wild rodent living in Japan at 22 – 30㎝ in length, and a thick tail longer than its torso and a distinctive, white rear half of the body. Long bristles stick up among the rat’s pointed body hairs. Lives primarily in tree tops by eating tree nuts and insects. Nocturnal, the animal can be found sleeping in tree hollows during the day.
Photo / ©Futoshi Hamada