Q:

Why is the monito del monte endangered?

A:

Quick Answer

The main threats that the monito del monte faces are habitat loss and the black rat. The IUCN classifies it as vulnerable because the native forests of the Maule region are being replaced by the conifer. The black rat preys on the monito del monte, furthering species loss. Conservation efforts in Chile focus on long-term monitoring of its diet and habitat to understand its role in the forest's ecology.

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Full Answer

The monito del monte is rumored to be a harbinger of bad luck, with stories of superstitious villagers fleeing their homes after the marsupial ventures inside. However, the monito del monte has managed to escape the eradication of its fellow order of marsupials; it is the last surviving member of the Microbiotheria order.

Only slightly larger than a mouse, the monito del monte has short, furry ears and large eyes ringed in black with silky brown fur and white patches. It is nocturnal and shelters in trees, feasting primarily on insects and fruit. It is found in dense, humid forests, preferring thickets of Chilean bamboo. It hibernates for up to six months during the year, with longer periods of food scarcity triggering longer hibernation periods. Its lifespan is estimated to be two years.

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