Animals

Adorable Rodent Returns From Extinction, and It’s the First Time We’d Cuddle a Rat

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Thought to have been extinct for the last 30 years, the adorably furry San Quintín kangaroo rat has made a surprising comeback in the Mexican desert that is making us cheer and go “Awww” all at once (and it’s probably the only time you’ll hear us say that about a rat!).

The Mexican government declared the San Quintín kangaroo rat critically endangered (and possibly extinct) in 1994. According to researchers at the San Diego Natural History Museum, the little things haven’t been seen hopping around since 1986. We can only imagine how excited the museum’s mammalogist Scott Tremor, research associate Sula Vanderplank, and senior researcher Eric Mellink of the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada must have been when they accidentally came across not one, but four of the sweet little rodents. The team found the long-presumed vanished rats last July, and have only made their reappearance known this year.

“It’s not unlike the feeling of being a child discovering something new… a child who discovers the world around him or her and is amazed by its wonders,” the researchers wrote in a blog post on the San Diego Natural History Museum website.

Unlike the small house rodents and field mice you’re probably used to seeing in the wintertime, the San Quintín kangaroo rat has two strong hind legs (like a kangaroo) and a long tail with a fluffy little tuft at the end. These tiny creature’s hind legs are so strong, they have the ability to jump more than six feet at a time, according to Sciencemag.org.

A fact sheet from the museum adds that, besides being adorable, these little guys are larger than other kangaroo rats in the region. They’re also a bit feisty: Tremor said he was surprised that the cute creature could kick its way out of his grasp.

Kangaroo rat

(Photo Credit: San Diego Natural History Museum)

“Not only is this discovery a perfect example of the importance of good old-fashioned natural history field work, but we have the opportunity to develop a conservation plan based on our findings,” Tremor said in a museum press release. “The ability to take our research and turn it into tangible conservation efforts is thrilling.”

Kangaroo rat

(Photo Credit: San Diego Natural History Museum)

In hopes of keeping the little fighters around, the team is working hand-in-hand with local organizations to come up with a foolproof conservation plan. We’re so happy that the kangaroo rats, with their long tails and teeny paws, will be able to mate and repopulate the area for years to come.

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