Sunday, February 04, 2007

Solenodon is Gonna Get You

An anonymous contributor from a previous blog suggested I take a look at the Cuban Solenodon. I did, and what I found was not pretty. Perfect. While I did just write about a mammal, I have to keep the viewers happy. That, and I don’t know where to look for my next post. Dear readers, please follow the example held by this nameless person, and give me suggestions for ugly things for me to relate to the world.

Image from Encyclopaedia Britannica
Image from Encyclopaedia Britannica
The Cuban Solenodon (Solenodon cubanus) is a shrew-like insectivore whose look reminds me most of a scaled down (to 6 or 7 inches) Rodent Of Unusual Size from The Princess Bride. They hail from the southeastern end of Cuba1, where they inhabit the dense, moist forests. They are nocturnal, relying on their sense of touch and their long snout to hunt.

They use toxic saliva to kill. Yes, the solenodon is a venomous mammal2, and its bite is used to subdue their prey—various arthropods. It is also used as defense against potential predators like snakes and birds of prey. Their name means “channel tooth,” which is likely the way to channel the venom, though I can’t find a source for that. Solenodons have an obviously positive impact on people, since their insectivorous habits help remove pests, and they are unlikely to hurt anyone unless you try to get bitten.

The solenodon is another island species that has been destroyed by the introduction of various carnivorous mammals. While rats, cats, and dogs have shown up in past posts, mongooses (mongeese?) have been introduced to Cuba, and destroyed the population. Enough that they were thought to be extinct, since none were found between 1890 and 1975.

Conservation is minimal, mostly relying on the fact that much of their habitat is within two Cuban National Parks.

1There also exists the Hispanolan solenodon, which is very similar to the Cuban variety, only on a different Caribbean Island. And cuter.
2I swore I had heard that the platypus, with a small spur, was the only venomous mammal. I was wrong.


Susannah Anderson said...


I love your blog. And I linked to this post and copied the photo from Wikipedia on my blog entry for today, here.

(I still haven't figured out how to set up a trackback.)

vlad259 said...

Cool, I meant to login when I left that original comment, it's ace you've done a piece on the Solenodon. Great blog - really good articles. Keep it up!

Garfman said...

Thank you both for your comments and suggestions. You'll convince me yet I have readers.

Greg said...

Cool blog! Great idea. Here's a couple of EUTs I found on the EDGE website:

Long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni)
Southern marsupial mole (Notoryctes typhlops)
Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica)

Looking forward to more great posting.

Zoë B said...
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Zoë B said...

awwww how cute
it looks so cute and weird at the same time!

Zoë B said...
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