Meet the Solenodon: Another weird, wonderful, venomous mammal!


While totally sounding like a sci-fi planet, Solenodons are actually just insectivores. In the family Solenodontidae, there is only one genus-Solenodon and just two species. Yes, solenodons come in just two flavors the Hispaniolan (Solenodon paradoxus) and the Cuban (Solenodon cubanus). These shrew-like looking creatures have a venomous bite that emanates from a groove in their second incisors. Solenodons are reported to eat plants, insects, small invertebrates, but also reptile, amphibians, and rodents. They kill prey larger than themselves most likely after inflicting a fatal bite. The toxin blarina produces a peptide called bradykinin and this bite then leads to paralysis and convulsions.

These amazing creatures are usually solitary and are only thought to come together for mating. Reproduction is slow and females have only 1-2 litters per year each time only giving birth to a few offspring. This weirdo mammal just gets weirder as her elongated teats are positioned near her groin. Her maternal care knows no bounds as she drags along her one or two young on her rear.

Check out the video below to see a solenodon in action:

Both species of Solenodons are considered endangered according the the IUCN Redlist. The Hispaniolan solenodon faces extinction primarily because of habitat destruction, while the Cuban solenodon is endangered mostly as a result of introduced predators including feral cats and dogs.

Read more about the Cuban Solenodon here at the EDGE site

Read more about the Hispaniolan Solenodon here at the EDGE site

If you are interested in the conservation status of the Hispaniolan Solenodon, check out this website where researchers raise awareness and update the research progress.

“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.

Author: Heidi Kay Smith

Biology PhD student on the cusp of finishing and moving on to a postdoc in the behavioral ecology of amphibians. I blog to share my thoughts, ideas, and general feelings of awe of the natural world.

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