Hispaniolan solenodons are solitary, nocturnal and rare, and so, unsurprisingly, are rarely seen (2). They are capable of climbing near-vertical surfaces but spend most of their time searching for food on the ground. They use their flexible snout to explore cracks and crevices, and their massive claws to dig under rocks, bark and soil, for invertebrates such as beetles, crickets, insect larvae, earthworms and termites (2). The Hispaniolan solenodon is also large enough to prey on amphibians, reptiles and small birds. Indeed, local people believe it to eat snakes and chickens (4), and such remains have been found in solenodon faeces, although this may be the result of scavenging dead animals (2). It lunges at its chosen prey, pinning it down with its strong forelimbs, and then scoops up the prey with its lower jaw. A bite from the solenodon injects the victim with toxic saliva and renders the prey immobile (2). Before Europeans arrived on the island, the solenodon would have been one of the dominant carnivores on Hispaniola, and was probably only eaten occasionally by boas and birds of prey (2). Unfortunately, the situation is very different today. Solenodons have a long life span, possibly around 11 years, and a low reproductive rate. The female gives birth to one or two young in a burrow (2), which can be an extensive system of tunnels in which they forage and nest (3). During the first two months of life the young remain close to their mother and may accompany her on foraging excursions, hanging on to her elongated teats by their mouth (2).
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