RODRIGUEZ (officially RODRIGUES), an island in the Indian ocean in 19° 41' S., 63° 23' E.; a dependency of the British colony of Mauritius, from which it is 400 m. distant. It is a station on the "all-British" cable route between South Africa and Australia. With a length from east to west of 13 m. it is from 3 to 6 m. wide. It is surrounded by a fringing reef of coral, studded with islets. This reef, only zoo yd. wide on the east, extends 3 m. west, and both north and south forms a flat area partly dry at low water.
Two passages through the reef are available for large vessels— these passages leading respectively to Port Mathurin on the north coast and to Port South-East.
The island is a mass of volcanic rock, mainly a doleritic lava, rich in olivine. The land is hilly and the main ridge rises abruptly on the east, but more gradually on the west, where there is a wide plain of coral limestone, studded with caves. Of several peaks on the main ridge the highest is Mt. Limon (1,3oo ft.). The ridge is deeply cut by ravines, the upper parts of which show successive belts of lava separated by thin beds of ashes, agglomerate and ochre-coloured clays. In places the cliffs rise 30o ft. and exhibit 12 distinct lava flows. The climate is like that of Mauritius, but Rodriguez is more subject than Mauritius to hurricanes during the north-west monsoon (November to April).
At present the only indigenous mammal is a species of fruit eating bat (Pteropus rodericensis), and the introduced species are familiar creatures as deer, pig, rabbit, rat, mouse, etc., but until recently there occurred a very large land-tortoise (Testudo vos maeri), and its limestone caves have yielded a large number of skeletons of the now extinct bird, the solitaire (q.v., Pezophaps solitarius). Of indigenous birds 13 species have been registered. The guinea-fowl (introduced) has become exceedingly abundant, partly owing to a protective game-law ; and a francolin (Franco linus ponticerianus), is also common. The marine fish-fauna does not differ from that of Mauritius, and the fresh-water species, with the exception of Mugu rodericensis and Myxus caecuticus, are common to all the Mascarenes. The insects comprise at least
6o species of Coleoptera, 15 Hymenoptera, 21 Lepidoptera, 15 Orthoptera, and 20 Hemiptera. Forty-nine species of coral have been collected, showing a close affinity to those of Mauritius, Madagascar and the Seychelles.
See F. Leguat, Voyages et aventures (1708), edit. by Capt. P. Oliver, in vols. lxxxii. and lxxxiii. of the Hakluyt Soc. publications (1891). See also C. Grant, Hist. of Mauritius and the Neighbouring Islands (18o1) ; Higgin, in Journ. R.G. Soc. (1849) ; the Reports of the Transit of Venus Expedition, published as an extra volume of the Philosophical Transactions, clxviii. (Botany, by I. B. Balfour ; Petrology, by N. S. Maskelyne, etc. 1879) ; Behm, in Petermann's Mittheilungen (188o) A. J. Bertuchi, The Island of Rodriguez (1923) ; and the annual reports on Mauritius.