Monday 18 November 2019

Secret lives of rats: Studying the ecology of urban ship rats

NOVEMBER 15, 2019

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

"Rats are a particularly damaging invasive species in New Zealand," Henry says. "Understanding them better, including how they move through an urban environment and what their habitat preferences are, will give insight into how to more effectively eradicate them and protect native flora and fauna, especially as there's currently very little known about the ecology of urban ship rats."

Henry and his supervisor, Associate Professor Stephen Hartley from the School of Biological Sciences, along with vet Craig Pritchard from Wellington Zoo, have spent the last three months trapping rats in the suburbs of Brooklyn, Roseneath, and Kelburn.

"We've been safely trapping a number of rats in these areas and attaching radio tracking collars to the rats," Henry says. "While attaching the collar we also record data like sex, body and tail length, species, and weight. We then release the rat at the site where they were trapped, and I then go out at different times during the day and night and attempt to triangulate their location using a directional antenna."

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