Santo Domingo – A male specimen of a solenodon, an endangered mammalian insectivore native to the island of Hispaniola, which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti, has been found, the Dominican Environment Ministry said.
The solenodon, which was being kept in captivity by a woman in her house in the eastern Dominican province of El Seibo, was turned over to the conservation and science department of the National Zoo, where it is being examined by researchers and experts on the species, the ministry said in a statement.
The zoologists and other officials noted that the animal is in very good physical condition, adding that the woman had kept it "tied up during the day in a banana tree and closed up in a box at night, disrupting the nocturnal feeding habits of this species, which is in danger of extinction," the ministry said.
The solenodon - Solenodon paradoxus - resembles a large shrew, has a flexible elongated snout and is considered the oldest living insect-eating animal on Hispaniola. They have long, naked, scaly tails, small eyes, and coarse, dark brown to black hair and are noteworthy for being one of the few mammals having venomous saliva.
Among the main things affecting the survival of the species are the loss of its habitat due to deforestation and the increase in human activity, such as agriculture, and depredation by animals introduced into the region, including ferrets, cats, rats and dogs, the Environment Ministry said.
During the day, the nocturnal solenodon lives in caves, holes in trees or in tunnels or excavations in the ground dug by the animal itself.