Rodents

Rodents are a key pest to agricultural and rural island communities of the South Pacific, but there is limited information of their impact on the crops and livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

The influence on crop damage of Rattus norvegicus, Rattus rattus, and the native Polynesian rat, Rattus exulans, was studied during the establishment of a rat control program for the Tongan Department of Agriculture in 1969. This was the first long-term study of Tongan rodents. Previous scientific literature on Tongan mammals is very sparse. The Kingdom of Tonga, or Friendly Islands, consists of approximately 150 small islands with a combined area of about 256 square miles at lat 21 0 S.

Rodents are a key pest to agricultural and rural island communities of the South Pacific, but there is limited information of their impact on the crops and livelihoods of small-scale farmers. The rodent pest community is known, but the type and scales of damage to different crops on different islands are unknown. Knowledge about rodent pest management in other geographical regions may not be directly transferable to the Pacific region. Many studies on islands have largely focussed on the eradication of rodents from uninhabited islands for conservation benefits.

There are five toxicants (brodifacoum, bromadialone, coumatetralyl, diphacinone, and flocoumafen) registered for rodent control in New Zealand. They are all anticoagulants and are available in water-resistant bait formulations (i.e. wax coating, wax block, or egg). Several new rodenticide products, which are currently in the process of being developed or registered, including a new anticoagulant difethialone, have also been identified.

The study of dispersal processes of small mammals, and especially of rodents, has a wide range of applications and until recent years there were few publications discussing the