Feeds

University rats on Sydney suburb

Rodent reintroduction reverses ratbags' rampage

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Mosman Council in Sydney, along with Sydney University and Taronga Zoo, hopes to drive out rats with more rats.

The native “bush rat” – Rattus fuscipes to scientists, the Bogul rat to its friends – is being reintroduced to bushland areas in the harbourside suburb, in the hope that it will displace a pest that arrived with Australia’s first Europeans.

While the native rat is still common away from the city, it hasn’t been seen close to Sydney’s centre for more than a hundred years.

The council and the university hope that locals will find the Bogul a better neighbour than the black rat. It’s not a home-invader, it doesn’t climb trees (meaning that native birds don’t find their nests raided), it doesn’t drive out native species such as the mouse-like marsupial antechinus, it doesn’t carry human or pet diseases (while plague hasn’t been observed in Australia for a long time, lungworm is a contemporary danger), and it doesn’t dress in balaclavas and plant extortion threats like other Mosman invaders.

Researcher Dr Grainne Cleary with a native Bogul rat. Image: University of Sydney

It’s quite likely that the black rats’ role as a disease carrier helped drive the Bogul out of Sydney.

During an outbreak of plague at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century, a bounty – equivalent to around $AU4 per rat in today’s currency – was offered to rat-catchers, and since they probably couldn’t tell the difference between the two species, both were swept up by the “ratbags” (rat-baggers).

Sydney University ecologist and team leader Peter Banks notes on the project Website that the last sighting of a Bogul rat in Sydney was the year after the plague was contained.

The researchers and Mosman Council hope to avoid confusion by pointing out the differences between the two rats – the native rat has a shorter tail and a less-pointed face.

In earlier research at Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast, researchers cleared black rats from bushland and observed the Boguls moving back in. The results were encouraging, with the natives still maintaining strong populations five years later.

Other project sponsors include the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and Rentokil. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.