Bramble Cay melomys facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Genus: Melomys
Species: M. rubicola
Binomial name
Melomys rubicola
Thomas, 1924

The Bramble Cay melomys, or Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat (Melomys rubicola), is a species of rodent in the family Muridae. While it is similar to the Cape York melomys it has some protein differences and a coarser tail. It is genetically different to species from Australia and New Guinea. It lives in burrows it has dug among plants, or under branches and leaves on the ground. It is a nocturnal animal, and scientists believe it is a vegetarian.

The Bramble Cay melomys is known only from a small population in Bramble Cay, a vegetated coral cay of 340 by 150 metres (1,120 ft × 490 ft). The cay is in the eastern part of Torres Strait, off the northern tip of Australia. It is only 50 km from New Guinea. The melomys were probably trapped on the island by rising sea levels after the last ice age. It is also possible to have come from the Fly River, perhaps floating on branches. Scientists do not know much about the animals that live in the Fly River area.

In the 1800s, there were lots of melomys on the island. A search in 1998 found 42 animals. Another search in 2002 found 10 animals. In 2004 a search found 12, but the melomys have not been seen since. During this time, the sea level has risen, making the island smaller, and turtles and sea birds have eaten most of the plants. Scientists believe the Bramble Cay melomys may be extinct. It is possible that the species may be found on nearby islands as many of these have never been searched. However, in June 2016, researchers from Queensland's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, and the University of Queensland reported that the species had indeed become extinct.

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