If only its name was half as cute as its little, furry, endangered face.
According to Wired, the red-crested tree rat simply sauntered out into the open earlier this month at a Colombian nature reserve, after a century-long hiatus from the public eye. This caused much excitement among the reserve’s volunteers—presumably not unlike the chaos that would ensue if The King just rolled into a hotel ballroom at an “Elvis Lives!” convention. Their joy was likely increased by the fact that, despite its unflattering moniker, the tree rat looks like what would happen if you put a guinea pig, hamster and chipmunk all together (and then gave it a sexy auburn dye job and a crazy-long tail).
(LIST: 12 Bizarre Animal Friendships)
Until now, the world’s knowledge of this little critter has come from just two who appeared in 1898, and the workers at the reserve are primed to take credit for this second act. Their little piece of land is one that has been preserved by ProAves, a conservation group that protects areas in the name of saving endangered species. They could hardly have a better talking point for the next fundraiser.
In a press release, ProAves says the animal will likely come under the protection of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species. But, they warn, “much of the tree rat’s potential remaining range is inundated with introduced feral cats that prey on native fauna.” We wish you the best of luck, tree rat. Don’t be a stranger.
(PHOTOS: Top 10 Miniature Animals)