Great Rat Catches of the World: Part 1

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A few of you will know Jose Gabriel Martinez from Nicaragua, who has organised some spectacularly successful mammal trips for me like this record breaking 86 species in 8 days. He is a total legend in the field, and when it comes to catching mammals (and snakes) by hand … well imagine if  Bruce Lee and the Terminator had a son who was interested in wildlife. Nothing will get in his way.

And so it was easy for me to picture  – and laugh at – his great account of capturing  a Rufous Tree Rat, the first record for Nicaragua.

It was about 10:30 pm and Julio, Luis and I were coming back from the yapok area. Julio saw a rat on the tree and we went closer to take a look. I saw a Vesper Rat running and I though it was it. But Julio was looking at another one higher on the tree. I took a photographs to zoom in and a notice a cute black face and a hairy tail. Diplomys!!
We landed and Julio climbed the tree as much as possible. He start shaking the tree at almost 8m above the water. The rat didn’t move. So Luis climbed the tree too to hand Julio a 4m long stick (the one we use to move the boat sometimes). The rat jumped to the water about 2m from the boat were I was. I jumped to the water too and swam behind it catching it and losing it a couple of times. (note: rubber boots and long pants and long sleeve shirts doesn’t help you swim) I finally grabbed it and then I had to swim with one hand only. 
Then I hear the boat! The river is a bit high and had a lot more water than usual. I had to swim behind the boat with the rat. I was exhausted.  I reach the boat and I had to keep pushing the boat until Luis came swimming to get on it and help me put the rat on safe. 
Hope all this narrative make sense! it is a bit hard to describe but it was incredible funny.
Jose needs his own reality show I reckon.

Rufous Tree Rat, Diplomys labilis


  • Steve Morgan

    Very interesting to see the Rufous Tree Rat. Well done on that! But I’m afraid it’s not Nicaragua’s first record of the species. I was on Fiona Reid’s February 2016 trip and we also got a Rufous Tree Rat. We confirmed the ID with various academics in Nicaragua (from the photographs) and, yes, it was a first record.

    Sorry to rain on your parade Jon!! But it’s still a great sighting and scientifically significant.

    • Jon Hall

      Ah yes, sorry Steve my bad. Apparently it is the first capture and specimen record… even if you had the first record record!

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