By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 25th 2019

Wildlife Wednesdays: Bramble Cay Melomys

A changing climate has already taken a toll on many animals, who have found it hard to adapt to the changes. TheĀ Bramble Cay Melomys, or "mosaic-tailed rat," was last seen in 2009 and is most likely extinct. They lived in the eastern Torres Strait, which lies between Australia and the island of New Guinea. It was first discovered (then killed) by Europeans on a tiny coral island of Bramble Cay. Several hundred populated the area as recently as 1978. Around 1993 through 2014, the sea level rose at almost twice the global average, which caused Bramble Cay to drastically decrease in size. With water wiping out most of the land, it also wiped out their food source, causing these little rodents to perish. The melomys lost 97% of their habitat and were last seen by fishermen in 2009. Scientists in 2011, and twice in 2014, tried to lay traps to catch the melomys , so they could start a captive breeding program to save them from extinction. It was too late; they couldn't find a trace of the animal. There was a small change that maybe a few were alive in an undiscovered location in Papua New Guinea, but scientists have judged it almost certainly extinct in 2016, due to the lack of resources. It is also the first mammal species to become extinct as a result of human-caused climate change.

The Bramble Cay Melomys
The Bramble Cay Melomys have been extinct since 2016
map of where the melomys lived
The Torres Strait was their home on Bramble Cay