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Bush Rats Fight Back Against Invaders in Sydney

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: July 24, 2021 1:30 am

Bush Rat Australian Wildlife Conservancy

A bush rat is held by a staff member at North Head Sanctuary in Sydney

Photo Credit: Wayne Lawler/AWC

Native bush rats are winning in the battle against introduced black rats at North Head Sanctuary on the shores of Sydney Harbor in Australia.

Recent surveys have shown that the black rat population at North Head Sanctuary has reduced from an estimated 112 in 2019 to 29 in 2020. This was further improved at the most recent survey in May 2021 when just 8 black rats were found in the 250ha sanctuary.

This result comes following the introduction of 170 bush rats between 2014 and 2016. These releases formed part of a unique initiative seeking to use native wildlife as biological control for an invasive species.

Australia's native bush rat is a highly territorial species aided by a strength in numbers approach. They can work together to evict competitors even the seemingly stronger species such as the black rat.

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“Bush Rats and Black Rats may fall under the same category of rodents, but they impact the environment differently. Bush Rats are native and support the local ecosystem by pollinating local trees and flowers right to the tip of each plant,” said Viyanna Leo, Australian Wildlife Conservancy Wildlife Ecologist. “Bush Rats co-exist with other native species and their presence prevents damaging species such as Black Rats from consuming the eggs of endangered ground-dwelling mammals and birds.”


“It’s very exciting that this initiative to reintroduce native wildlife in order to remove pests has worked and to have a success story that sees Bush Rats take back their territory from an invasive species.”

“It’s very exciting that this initiative to reintroduce native wildlife in order to remove pests has worked and to have a success story that sees Bush Rats take back their territory from an invasive species.”


Daniel Sealey, Director of Planning at the Harbour Trust said protecting the threatened flora and fauna at North Head Sanctuary is a key priority of the Harbour Trust.


“It is very pleasing to see the native wildlife numbers continue to grow as these threatened species further establish their presence at North Head thanks to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy who have worked with the Harbour Trust to re-introduce these species to the site,” Daniel said.

Another exciting discovery was four brown antechinus in an Elliott trap. These animals were introduced to the sanctuary in 2018 and this is the highest number recorded since.

Amur Tiger Cubs Vaccinated at Highland Wildlife Park

A bush rat is held by a staff member at North Head Sanctuary in Sydney

Photo Credit: Wayne Lawler/AWC

Learn more about the Australian Wildlife Conservancy on their website – Australian Wildlife Conservancy

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