Rattus rattus

The relationship between Rattus rattus trap capture rates and microhabitat in Mt Aspiring National Park

The role of vegetation in the relationship between microhabitat and ship rat (Rattus rattus) distribution remains poorly understood. We used three years of trapping data (2017–2020) to calculate capture rates for 97 traps in the Makarora Valley and Haast Pass areas of Mt Aspiring National Park and determined aspects of the vegetation surrounding traps that influenced capture rates.

Nanopore sequencing of metagenomic DNA from rat stomach contents to infer diet

Accurate determination of animal diets is difficult. Methods such as molecular barcoding or metagenomics offer a promising approach allowing quantitative and sensitive detection of different taxa. Here we show that rapid and inexpensive quantification of animal, plant, and fungal content from stomach contents is possible through metagenomic sequencing with the portable Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) MinION. Using an amplification-free approach, we profile the stomach contents from 24 wild-caught rats.

Radio collaring reveals long-distance movements of reinvading ship rats following landscape-scale control

Understanding rates of reinvasion is critical for determining what drives ship rat population recovery following large-scale control operations. We radio-tracked 23 adult ship rats on the edge of a forested area where rats had been suppressed by aerial compound 1080 in the Hollyford Valley, Fiordland. Eleven individuals died within two months of collaring and two individuals were never detected again, leaving us with data from 10 rats.

Effects of altitude, seedfall and control operations on rat abundance in South Island Nothofagus forests 1998–2016

In New Zealand, ship rats (Rattus rattus) have been implicated in many extinctions, declines, and range contractions of native birds, so ship rats are an important target of predator control. The outcomes of ship rat control operations are difficult to predict due to other factors which affect rat populations including altitude, Nothofagus seedfall, and control of other mammalian pests, particularly brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and stoats (Mustela erminea).

Measuring rat relative abundance using camera traps and digital strike counters for Goodnature A24 self-resetting traps

Invasive ship rats (Rattus rattus) pose a threat to the biota of Goat Island (9.3 ha), New Zealand. In June 2016 we installed 10 Goodnature A24 CO2 powered self-resetting rat and stoat traps equipped with digital strike counters (Goodnature Ltd., Wellington, NZ) to control rat numbers on the island. The self-resetting traps were monitored with motion-activated cameras to develop a measure of rat abundance from camera traps. All devices were checked on 10 occasions from August 2016 to October 2017. The videos revealed high rat activity on the island, which reduced over time.

Movement behaviour of a translocated female ship rat and her offspring in a low rat density New Zealand forest

Dispersal is a fundamentally important aspect of animal behaviour, but empirical data describing it are lacking for many species. Here, we report on a field study aimed at measuring post-weaning movement distances of juvenile ship rats (Rattus rattus) and their mother away from a known natal nest site in an area with low conspecific population density. The movement behaviour of invasive species at low density is of particular interest, as it can inform design of surveillance arrays to detect incursion into predator-free areas.

Invasive rodents, an overlooked threat for skinks in a tropical island hotspot of biodiversity

Squamata are one of the most threatened groups among island vertebrates, facing high pressure from exotic species. However, the contribution of small terrestrial reptiles in invasive rodents’ diet remains poorly investigated, partly because of the lack of tools for accurately identifying chewed prey fragments in gut contents. The New Caledonia archipelago (South Pacific) hosts an exceptional terrestrial squamata fauna (105 species, 91.6% endemic) that are faced with many invasive species (rodents, feral cats, feral pigs, ants) and strong human pressures.

The legacy of Big South Cape: rat irruption to rat eradication

Big South Cape Island (Taukihepa) is a 1040 ha island, 1.5 km from the southwest coast of Stewart Island/Rakiura, New Zealand. This island was rat-free until the incursion of ship rats (Rattus rattus) in, or shortly before, 1963, suspected to have been accidentally introduced via local fishing boats that moored at the island with ropes to the shore, and were used to transport the mutton birders to the island.