The diet, population structure and breeding of ship rats (Rattus rattus L.) from Fiordland National Park were assessed from measurements and gut sample analysis of 248 rats trapped between March 2009 and March 2010, following a mast beech seedfall. They consumed many lepidopteran larvae but fewer weta and more vegetative plant matter than in other habitats, as well as beech seed. Birds and mice made up only a relatively small proportion of the diet. A lizard was also confirmed as a prey item of R.
Estimates of abundance, age structure and sex ratio are essential for monitoring the status of populations. We report the first attempt to reliably estimate these parameters in a population of the recently discovered Raukumara tusked weta (Motuweta riparia), which is found almost entirely near streams. On two occasions we searched a 211-m section of creek for 4–5 successive nights and individually marked all weta. We estimated abundance of adults and juveniles using closed-population mark-recapture analysis.
The prevalence of infestation of the skulls of stoats with the parasitic nematode Skrjabingylus nasicola was previously described in a national survey by King and Moody (1982). Since then, more samples from Craigieburn Forest Park and from the Eglinton Valley, Fiordland, have been collected, and a method of determining the actual ages of adult stoats has been developed. The extended samples are here examined for a relationship between infestation and age, which could not previously be tested. Prevalence generally increases with age, significantly so at Craigieburn.