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Our Key Species are those small mammals that are ranked as the world’s most Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE). These species represent a significant amount of unique evolutionary history and are among the ‘weirdest and most wonderful species on the planet’.  Ranging from the bizarre Hispaniolan and Cuban solenodons, two of the few venomous mammals in the world – to the Kha-nyou or Laotian Rock-rat, a species so ancient it is considered a ‘living fossil’ – to the Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat, which has only been seen a handful of times in history.

But these species are under great threat and many are on the brink of extinction.  And we know very little about them in order to decide how best they can be conserved and to convince donors that they can be saved. Working in collaboration with ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme, we are recruiting SMSG Key Species Champions which are being supported to further investigate their population status, to identify their main threats and to champion their conservation

As a start, we are focusing on the small mammals which appear on the Top 100 EDGE small mammal list, including 26 species of rodent, shrew, gymnure and solenodon.  Click on the photos below to find out about our Key Species and the people working to study and save them.

Khartoum Gerbil

Gerbillus stigmonyx

Jamaican Hutia

Geocapromys brownii

Large Rock Rat

Cremnomys elvira

Galemys pyrenaicus

Pyrenean Desman

Galemys pyrenaicus

Namdapha Flying Squirrel

Biswamoyopterus biswasi

Russian Desman (Photo credit Klaus Rudloff)

Russian Desman

Desmana moschata

Büttner’s African Forest Mouse

Leimacomys buettneri

Almiquí (credit Gerardo Begue)

Cuban Solenodon

Solenodon cubanus


Laonastes aenigmamus

Hispaniolan Solenodon

Solenodon paradoxus

Bolivian Chinchilla Rat

Abrocoma boliviensis

Muennink’s Spiny Rat

Tokudaia muenninki

Hainan Gymnure

Neohylomys hainanensis

Short-tailed Chinchilla

Chinchilla chinchilla

Long-tailed Chinchilla

Chinchilla lanigera

Santa Catarina’s Guinea Pig

Cavia intermedia

Ethopian Water-mouse

Ethiopian Water Mouse

Nilopegamys plumbeus

Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat

Hypogeomys antimena

Chiapan Climbing Rat

Tylomys bullaris

Tumbalá Climbing Rat

Tylomys tumbalensis

Nelson’s Small Eared Shrew

Cryptotis nelsoni

Little Earth/San Felipe Hutia

Mesocapromys sanfelipensis

Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat

Crateromys australis

Dwarf Hutia

Mesocapromys nanus