Rattus norvegicus

The three most invasive rat species, black or ship rat Rattus rattus, brown or Norway rats, R. norvegicus and Pacific rat, R. exulans have been incrementally introduced to islands as humans have explored the world’s oceans. They have caused serious deleterious effects through predation and competition, and extinction of many species on tropical islands, many of which are biodiversity hotspots. All three rat species are found in virtually all habitat types, including mangrove and arid shrub land.

The eradication of some introduced pests such as rats, stoats and possums in New Zealand seems increasingly feasible with successful action to date in various cities (e.g. Wellington City) and with the government’s national 2050 predator-free goal. Here we specifically detail the potential benefits of urban rat eradication and find these cover a wide range of topics including a potentially reduced risk of infection from at least seven zoonotic diseases (e.g. leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, trichinellosis, murine typhus; and three enteric diseases).

The eradication of the seven remaining animal pest species remaining on Rangitoto and Motutapu was announced by the Prime Minister and Minister of Conservation in June 2006. With stoats, cats, hedgehogs, rabbits, mice and two species of rats spread across an area of 3842ha, the proposed project is the most challenging and complex island pest eradication the Department of Conservation (DOC) has ever attempted.

It is widely recognized that trophic interactions structure ecological communities, but their effects are usually only demonstrated on a small scale. As a result, landscape-level documentations of trophic

New Zealand, an archipelago of more than 2000 islands, has a terrestrial fauna especially depauperate in native land mammals. Kiore (Rattus exulans) was the first of four rodent species introduced by people. A project to eradicate invasive rats from Kapiti Island in 1996, represented a turning point in the technology, complexity and scale at which managers of natural heritage on New Zealand islands could operate. This paper includes case studies of some significant projects targeting rodents, sometimes with other introduced mammals, undertaken in the 12 years following Kapiti.

The two most fundamental pieces of information necessary to begin developing ecological studies and conservation strategies for reptiles (or any organisms) are identifying the species and knowing what a species does in its natural habitat.