You may have never heard of the Bramble Cay melomys, but this tiny, unfortunate creature may have earned a place in the history books. The Australian rodent, which had been living on a small island off Queensland but has not been seen in a decade. However, it may receive unwanted notoriety which could have far-reaching consequences. This comes with the news the Bramble Cay melomys is thought to be the first mammal in the world to be rendered extinct, as a result of man-made climate change.
The small rodent, which somewhat looked like a brown rat, had been living in a stretch of land in the Torres Strait, near Papua New Guinea. However, since around the year 2000, the low-lying island has faced constant flooding from the sea, to the point it has devastated their home. The Australian government has now acknowledged that the Bramble Cay melomys, or Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat is officially extinct. This tallies with the findings of the state of Queensland, which started three years ago that they could not find any trace of the rodent, despite carrying out a search. This followed on from an exhaustive effort to find any sign of the Bramble Cay melomys two years earlier, in 2014.
Unfortunately, there is no doubt now the poor creature has been eradicated from the face of the earth, and many are laying the blame at the rising oceans. A state government report has said the loss of the rodent population can almost definitely be attributed to the ocean covering the island over the last ten years, affecting the habitat. The report also believed the rise in flooding on the island was down to man-made climate change, which has seen the extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys.
As bleak as it may seem though, it may not be over for the species. Experts believe the Fly River delta of Papua New Guinea could be a breeding ground for the melomys population. There is a possibility close relatives of the Bramble Cay melomys may be living there, so there is a chance a variation of the Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat may still be around. Where there’s life there’s hope.