Solenodon, a mammal that somewhat resembles a shrew. There are only two species—one found in Cuba, the other on Hispaniola. Solenodons range in length from about 11 to 12 1/2 inches (28 to 32 cm) not including the tail, which can be from about 7 to 9 inches (18 to 23 cm) long. Solenodons have long, pointed snouts and sharply clawed feet. Their coarse fur is blackish or brownish with lighter markings. The tail and feet are nearly hairless. Solenodons live in forests and bushy areas where they are active mainly at night. They feed on small animals and on fruit and vegetables. They shelter in burrows, caves, hollow trees, and logs.

Because of their slow rate of reproduction (one or two litters of one to three young per year) and because of predators, such as dogs, cats, and mongooses, solenodons are considered endangered.

Which Insectivores Are a Rare Find?

Members of the solenodon family are some of the rarest insectivores. They live only in remote parts of two Caribbean islands—Cuba and Hispaniola (hihs puhn YOH luh). Hispaniola is divided into the countries of Haiti (HAY tee) and the Dominican Republic.

Solenodons are one of the largest types of insectivores. A solenodon can grow to nearly 2 feet (61 centimeters) in length and weigh around 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams). It resembles a rat but has a long, pointed snout. The animal has sharp claws on its front feet that it uses to dig for insects in hollow logs.

Solenodon fossils found in North America reveal that these ancient animals lived there about 30 million years ago.

What Is That Clicking Sound?

It is a solenodon looking for a tasty meal. The clicking noises a solenodon makes create sound waves that echo. The way the echo bounces back to the solenodon helps it sense things in its path and find food. This complicated process is called echolocation (ehk oh loh KAY shuhn).

When the solenodon finds insects or small reptiles to eat, it bites its prey with sharp, grooved teeth. Poisonous saliva is released through the grooves into the wound, helping to kill the prey.

Solenodons make up the family Solenodontidae and the genus Solenodon. The Cuban solenodon is S. cubanus; the Hispaniolan, or Haitian, Solenodon, S. paradoxus.