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Victoria finds rare rat in the ranks

Victoria conservationists smell a rat; the endangered native broad-toothed rat has been discovered in Wilsons Promontory for the first time in three decades.

The chubby cheeked, short-tailed, big-toothed rat is facing an uphill battle for survival in Australia against climate change, habitat loss and predation by feral pests.

Zoos Victoria’s Phoebe Burns says the discovery in Victoria’s southeast is exciting news for the species, which now mainly calls the country’s alpine regions home.

“It hopefully means there is extra genetic diversity here that we thought had been lost,” Dr Burns said.

The discovery is a result of a search by Dr Burns and rangers from Parks Victoria of previously inhabited regions by the cute rodent.

There they found the broad-toothed rat’s distinctive bright green poo before being able to catch and release one of the rodents – the first time it has been seen in Wilsons Promontory in 32 years.

The Victorian government is heralding it as a win for its Prom Sanctuary project, which is establishing a 50,000 hectare safe haven for native wildlife in the region.

The broad-toothed rat feeds exclusively on grasses and sedges in cool, wet habitats.

News of the discovery comes after the government owned VicForests green lit logging of habitat of the endangered greater glider in Victoria’s east.

Australia has one of the highest rate of species loss in the world.

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