Bramble Cay Melomys: 13 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Bramble Cay Melomys facts are very interesting to learn about.

Would you like to know more about the first mammal to become extinct? The Melomys Rubicola was found on the lone island of Bramble Cay on the Torres Strait, in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, just 50 km away from Papua New Guinea. The population of this animal has faced extinction due to the destruction of their food and home - the vegetation on their island. This has happened due to the ocean inundation destroying the environment, which was a direct result of human-made global warming and climate change. These now-extinct rodents were last sighted in 2009, by a fisherman visiting the island. While the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) and the Queensland government had declared them to be Extinct in May 2015. However, the Australian government did not declare them to be extinct before February 2019. Read on to know more interesting facts about this endemic species.

If you enjoy reading about these fascinating rodents you would also enjoy our articles on the dormouse and mice.

Bramble Cay Melomys

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

2.75-5.75 oz (78-164 g)

How long are they?

Body Length - 5.9-6.5 in (15-16.5 cm)

Tail Length - 5.75-7.22 in (14.5-18.5 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Red, brown

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Habitat loss due to climate change

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Burrows in coral cay


Bramble Cay in the Torres Strait





Scientific Name

Melomys rubicola





Bramble Cay Melomys Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Bramble Cay melomys?

A Bramble Cay Melomys is a type of rat or rodent, belonging to the order Rodentia and family Muridae.

What class of animal does a Bramble Cay melomys belong to?

The Bramble Cay Melomys belong to the class Mammalia or mammals.

How many Bramble Cay melomys are there in the world?

While the Bramble Cay Melomys were abundant around the 1800s, their population had started to decrease from 1987. Almost 42 of these mosaic-tailed rat melomys had been caught in 1998, just 10 in 2002, and 12 in 2004. However, researchers have not found any traces of this species from as early as 2009. This species has now been declared Extinct by the Australian government and the IUCN  (International Union of Conservation of Nature).

Where does a Bramble Cay melomys live?

The Melomys rubicola live in the vegetation and coral rubble of Bramble Cay. The Bramble Cay is a lone, small island located in the northernmost tip of Australia, specifically on the north-eastern side. The Cay is situated near the Torres Strait of Queensland and to the north of the Great Barrier Reef. While researchers have considered the possibility of these animals living in Papua New Guinea (which is just 5o km away from Bramble Cay), they have no evidence as such.

What is a Bramble Cay melomys habitat?

The Bramble Cay Melomys is known to survive on the vegetation of the Bramble Cay. They used to live on the foliage and coral rubble on the cay. However, climate change leading to water inundation has led to the destruction of their home. This loss of food and home has led to the extinction of this species.

Who do Bramble Cay melomys live with?

While this species used to live isolated on the island of Bramble Cay, it is not specifically known if they were solitary creatures or lived together.

How long does a Bramble Cay melomys live?

Although there is no concrete evidence, it is assumed that this species could survive for two years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Even though we do not know the exact reproductive method of the Bramble Cay Melomys, it is assumed that they bred like the other species in the Muridae family. The rodents in the Muridae family would reproduce throughout the year, producing several babies or kittens every year.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Queensland government, the Bramble Cay Melomys have been declared Extinct from 2016. This endemic species first became endangered much earlier, due to a rise in temperature and sea levels. Their gradual extinction was caused due to human-made climate change. The Bramble Cay Melomys is the first mammal to come extinct.

Bramble Cay Melomys Fun Facts

What do Bramble Cay melomys look like?

The Bramble Cay Melomys looks a little larger than an average house rat, with a bodyweight of 2.75-5.75 oz (78-164 g). The Melomys rubicola has large feet, short ears, and a long tail. Its body length is about 5.87-6.5 in (14.8-16.5 cm) with a large tail measuring up to 5.75-7.22 in (14.5-18.5 cm). It closely resembles the Cape York Melomys, having a red-brown coat with black fur, and a gray-brown underbelly.

The Bramble Cay melomys are found in Bramble Cay in the north of the Great Barrier Reef.

How cute are they?

The Bramble Cay Melomys is not considered very cute, as rodents seem unappealing to humans in general.

How do they communicate?

The exact method of communication used by the Bramble Cay Melomys is unknown, due to limited studies. However, we can assume that they used the same methods of communication, like sense of smell, used by other rodents of the same family.

How big is a Bramble Cay melomys?

The Bramble Cay Melomys has a body length of 5.9-6.5 in (15-16.5 cm) and a tail length of 5.75-7.22 in (14.5-18.5 cm). It is almost twice the size of a regular mouse.

How fast can a Bramble Cay melomys run?

The exact speed of a Bramble Cay Melomys is unknown. However, it is assumed that they were fast as the other rodents in their family.

How much does a Bramble Cay melomys weigh?

The estimated weight of the Bramble Cay Melomys is 2.75-5.75 oz (78-164 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Like other rat species, the male Bramble Cay Melomys was known as a buck, while the female was known as a doe.

What would you call a baby Bramble Cay melomys?

A baby Bramble Cay Melomys was known as a pup or a kitten.

What do they eat?

While there is no specific investigation regarding the diet of the Bramble Cay Melomys, it is assumed that they used to survive on the foliage found on the Bramble Cay island, especially on the succulent Portulaca oleracea. However, sometimes they would also feed on turtle eggs.

Are they dangerous?

These rodents had been living alone on an isolated island for their entire life, hence there has not been enough study regarding this endemic species. Hence, we cannot ascertain if they were dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the Melomys rubicola would not make a good pet. This is because they were known to live only in the natural habitat of the Bramble Cay region. It would be difficult for them to survive outside their habitation.

Are they hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately, due to very little study on the Bramble Cay Melomys, it is not known if they were hypoallergenic in nature.

Are they friendly?

There is no record of any other species living with this endemic species on the isolated Bramble Cay island. Since there has been no major investigation into their nature, it is difficult to ascertain if they were friendly animals.

Did you know...

The Bramble Cay Melomys' tail was prehensile. This means its tail was able to grasp anything.

Why did the Bramble Cay melomys go extinct?

The Bramble Cay Melomys is the first mammal to become extinct due to global warming and anthropogenic climate change. This species used to live in the Bramble Cay region in the eastern Torres Strait. The cay itself was only 3 m above sea level. With the temperature and sea-level rise, the cay was flooded with seawater. This salty water destroyed almost 90% of the vegetation present in the low-lying cay, thus destroying the food and home of the Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat. This led to the ultimate decline in the species population, leading to its extinction.

When did the Bramble Cay melomys go extinct?

According to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Queensland government, the Bramble Cay Melomys have been declared Extinct from 2016. However, it was announced Extinct by the Australian government much later in February 2019. These now-extinct rodents were last sighted in 2009, by a fisherman visiting the island.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our Syrian hamster surprising facts and mountain beaver fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bramble cay melomys coloring pages.



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