Feeds

University rats on Sydney suburb

Rodent reintroduction reverses ratbags' rampage

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Business security measures using SSL

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.