- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
Before Christopher Columbus and his men showed up, there were an estimated 20 native mammals. Now, there are only two and they are hanging on for dear life. If you see one in its natural habitat, consider yourself lucky; they are rare and tend to hide out.
The solenodon is a primitive shrew-like creature about 30 centimeters long with a tail up to 25 centimeters. These insectivores are stout and have an unusually long snout. They’re not the cutest kids on the playground (think “rat meets anteater”), with long bristly faces and small eyes. They have brown fur but naked tails and huge feet that have long, clawed toes. They have a “Bless his heart, he’s so ugly, he’s cute” look about them. Still, they are survivors and have been in existence for 30 million years feeding on insects and worms. It’s taken scientists a long time to get to know the solenodon, partly because they are nocturnal, burrowing in trees and caves during the day. When they do come out, they scuttle about in a serpentine pattern. Their grooved incisors make them even more inaccessible; poison runs from a gland at the base of each, fatally wounding any would-be captor in the wild. However, this mean bite was no match for the bigger animals (especially the mongoose) that were introduced. Solenodons are slow, clumsy runners and are not agile. They have had a hard time surviving.
The hutia, yet another small rodent, shares many similarities with the solenodon. They both live in tree trunks and caves and are nocturnal. The hutia is, for the most part, an herbivore. It resembles a prairie dog and likes to climb trees.
Instead of native animals, most visitors will notice a remarkable overabundance of stray dogs, cats, and chickens.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition