The Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes) is a small Australian nocturnal mammal. It is an omnivore and eats fungi, grasses, fruits, seeds and insects.
Bush Rats were first noted formally by Charles Darwin on his trip to Australia in 1839 and later described by G.R. Waterhouse. Today, Bush Rats are common on the east coast of Australia. Sydney represents a conspicuous gap in the distribution as bush rats are otherwise abundant in Pittwater, Royal National Park, Ku-ring-gai and Garigal.
The last record of Bush Rats in Sydney was in Maroubra in 1901. Interestingly this was the year after the bubonic plague arrived in Sydney.
- Sydney Bush Rats research project
- Identifying the Black Rat, Bush Rat and possum
- How can I help?
- Bush Rats in the media
Sydney Bush Rats research project
The Sydney Bush Rats research project is a collaborative project involving Mosman Council, The University of Sydney, Taronga Zoo, the National Parks & Wildlife Service, Australian Wildlife Conservation and Rentokill to gather scientific data on the impact that black rats have upon native flora and fauna, and to determine how best the native bush rat can be reestablished in natural bushland areas after black rats are removed.
Black rats can potentially spread disease to native wildlife, domestic pets and humans, degrade natural bushland areas, and compete with native fauna for food and shelter.
The project involves the removal of black rats from Mosman bushland areas, and the introduction of the native Bush Rat into those same bushland areas to aid in the restoration of the natural ecosystem.
The project is expected to restore bushland and stabilise the ecology of these areas, reducing the spread of weeds and increasing the growth of native flora as well as increasing the abundance of native fauna such as Tawny Frogmouths, antechinuses (small, shrew-like mammals), lizards and frogs.
Identifying the Black Rat, Bush Rat and possum
Introduced Black Rat
Native Bush Rat
Native Ringtail Possum
|Long tail in relation to body – usually body length||Shorter tail||Long tail used as another limb with a white tip|
|Agile climbers||Ground dwelling||Tree dwelling|
|Invades human disturbed areas||Lives in dense forest undergrowth||Lives in urban and bush land habitat|
|Pointy ears||Round ears|
- Differences between Black and Bush Rats – SydneyBushRats.com
How can I help?
Responsible pet ownership
One of the greatest threats to the Sydney Bush Rat research project is domestic animals. While you may be aware that being a responsible pet owner involves taking care of your pets by feeding, exercising, regular visits to the vet and giving your pet lots of love, you may not be aware of your pet’s capability to injure native wildlife.
Many pet owners are under the false impression that their pets would never kill wildlife. All cats, domestic or feral, have a natural predatory ability or instinct and they will hunt and kill native wildlife if allowed the opportunity. Dogs are territorial by nature and will defend their territory. No matter the size or shape of your dog, they will attack if its territory is under threat. As a responsible pet owner you can help reduce the number of native animals killed or injured in your local area, including the native bush rat, whilst insuring your pet’s safety and health are protected.
How can I help?
- Keep your cat contained securely on your property during the day alternatively you could create a cat run where your cat can play securely or install a cat proof fence around the perimeters of your property. (By keeping cats secure you are also caring for their safety by protecting your cat from diseases and infection that may be passed on from other roaming cats.)
- Keep your cats indoors in the evening as cats will hunt at dusk and dawn.
- Keep your dog on a lead when near bushland reserves and areas where native animals may be vulnerable, stay on tracks or alternatively you can use Council dog off-leash areas.
- Keep fences secure and make sure your pets can’t escape.
- Ensure your pets are micro chipped and registered with council.
- Have your pets desexed if not already.
I think I might have a native bush rat in my backyard, how can I tell the difference between the native bush rat and the black rat?
The native bush rat is very shy and lives in dense forest undergrowth for protection, and you won’t see them venturing near bushland edges or suburban backyards. They also have round ears and a shorter tail than the black rat. Black rats can be aggressive, most often live in human disturbed areas such as houses and backyards, are agile enough to climb trees, and they have pointy ears.
If the native bush rat competes with the black rat, does that mean when you release the native bush rat into the local bushland areas of Mosman, that I will have more black rats invading my home?
The simple answer is no. The native bush rat release program also involves removing black rats from the areas in which the native bush rat will be released. This is to control the numbers of black rats, giving the native bush rat the best possible chance of survival.
Can I get some native bush rats to release in my backyard to control the black rat?
No. The native bush rat would not survive in human disturbed areas such as backyards as this is not their preferred habitat, and they would be vulnerable to predators such as domestic cats and dogs.
Where in Mosman are the native bush rats being released?
In July and August 2011, the native bush rats will be released into bushland areas of Mosman within the Sydney Harbour National Park.
Got a question about the Bogul?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Protecting our wildlife: Responsible pet ownership – Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
- Keeping Wildlife Safe & Your Cat Happy PDF – WIRES NSW
- How to build cat proof fencing and cat enclosures – Department of Primary Industries, Victoria
- Companion Animals – Mosman Council
- Dog exercise areas – Mosman Council
Bush Rats in the media
- The real rat race – University of Sydney Media, 11 August 2011
- Native rats go wild in a return to the city – Aaron Cook, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 August 2011
- Aussie Boguls take on a rat race for Sydney’s future – Dr Grainne Cleary on ABC 702 radio
- Native rats to be released in Sydney – ABC TV