6 min read

Never-Before-Seen Animal Found Hiding Out On Island

That name.

Hog-nosed rat.

No, it doesn't hail from the mean end of the playground, where some kids will cook up the most creative of insults.

This is an actual species. And they hail from the dense mountains of an Indonesian island.

You might be forgiven for not hearing the name before. The hog-nosed rat is the new species on the block, having been discovered only last year.

In fact, a team of international scientists happened upon just five of them during a six-week survey of Sulawesi Island.

Apparently, they were as surprised as anyone by the discovery.

"We had been setting up overnight traps for a few days," Kevin Rowe, a mammal curator at Australia's Museum Victoria, told the BBC. "That was when I stumbled upon a completely new rat.

"I hollered immediately for my colleagues as I knew it was a new species."

It isn't clear exactly how the rodent earned his name. It may have just stuck after someone shrieked in horror upon first seeing his teeth features.

"Nothing is currently known about these rats and how widely they were distributed throughout the forests," Rowe added.

You see the hog-nosed rat (aka Hyorhinomys stuempkei) lives up to his name. At least, physically.

His teeth nose bears a striking resemblance to that of a piglet, according to a research paper published in the Journal of Mammalogy.

And teeth floppy, disproportionately Dumbo-like ears round out this roughly 250-gram package.

The hog-faced rat has a few other interesting teeth features, like particularly long and strong hind legs, which scientists suspect give him extra hopping power. We would be remiss in not mentioning another curious characteristic of the hog-nosed rat.

Extraordinarily long teeth pubic hairs, believed to be of some assistance during mating.

Did we mention those teeth?


Little rat, how did you get those teeth? For now that may be Nature's own private mystery. But we do know, as reported by ScienceDaily, that the hog-nosed rat doesn't have a muscle connecting its lower jaw to the rest of his mouth.

That missing attachment point, called the coronoid process, allows those gaping lower teeth to hang loose in the jaw - and limits the hog-nosed rat's diet to less chewable fare like earthworms and beetle larvae.

"I don't know of any other rodents that have lost the coronoid process completely," Jake Esselstyn, a member of the research team, told ScienceDaily.

Of course, as with any freshly discovered species, there's a lot more to learn about the hog-nosed rat.

Even their rainy island home, which has yet to be fully explored by scientists, may yet bear more mystery.

"Last year we discovered amphibious and toothless rats on the island too," Rowe explained to the BBC. "There is a remarkable morphological evolution going on there."

If by "morphological evolution" Rowe means rodents who develop insanely long, vampire-style teeth, we can heartily agree.

Sulawesi Island sounds like a remarkable place indeed.

Watch the hog-nosed rat in action below.

Unfortunately, researchers killed one rat to use as a specimen. But you can still see a close-up of the poor little guy below.