A critically-endangered animal in the Hunter has been given new hope, after rangers found a small family in the wild.

The Barrington broad-toothed rat is on the brink of extinction, but Aussie Ark is optimistic the discovery is a chance to turn those odds around.

Aussie Ark’s Deputy Managing Director Liz Gabriel says we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

“Although it’s a rat, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Ms Gabriel said.

“It’s a habitat specialist, so it’s only found in a unique part of the alpine swamps of the Barrington region.

“Saving it is critical to the environment that it lives in, and until recently, they’ve been extremely elusive.”

The species is under pressure from feral pests like foxes and cats, as well as bushfires and the impact of climate change.

It’s understood, the population has been in decline for years, and only hundreds remain in the wild.

Ms Gabriel says the organisation is looking forward to saving the rat.

“The team are just overwhelmed and so excited to be able to make a difference for another species,” Ms Gabriel said.

“These founding animals will form the beginning of a insurance population that will grow and in partnership with the NSW Government, will then return back into the wild environment from which they come from.

“This is a critical step in saving this species from extinction.”