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Endangered Greater Stick Nest Rats Returned to the Wild

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: November 3, 2020 11:08 am

greater stick nest rat release

A greater stick nest rat peers out of a nest box

Photo Credit: D Sickerdick/AWC/DPIE (Department of Planning, Industry and Environment)

A group of over 40 endangered greater stick nest rats have been released to the wild after being bred at Monarto Safari Park in South Australia.

While most people think of rats as gross these guys won’t be coming to your house to eat your food. Greater stick nest rats or ‘stickies’ as they are affectionately known are a native rodent that is larger, rounder and fluffier than their introduced cousins.

With an amazing ability to conserve water the greater stick nest rat is well adapted for living in arid areas with little water.

greater stick nest rat release

A greater stick nest rat is released from its nest box

Photo Credit: D Sickerdick/AWC/DPIE (Department of Planning, Industry and Environment)

Another amazing feature of them is the nests which they build out of a range of sticks. This is glued together using their urine which is sticky. This nest can grow to be several metres wide and tall providing a home for 10-20 stick nest rats at one time.

Each nest can be home to many generations of stick nest rats and the dominant female will pass down her nest to her female offspring.

Despite these amazing features the greater stick nest is now found only on Franklin Island off the coast of South Australia. Their once wide range across Australia has been reduced by feral predators such as red foxes and cats.

Recently a collaborative translocation plan has been established with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and independent not-for-profit organisation Australian Wildlife Conservancy which saw the rats released into protected pens in Mallee Cliffs National Park.

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greater stick nest rat release

A greater stick nest rat is checked over prior to its release

Photo Credit: D Sickerdick/AWC/DPIE (Department of Planning, Industry and Environment)

Zoos South Australia’s Conservation Manager Dr Liberty Olds is incredibly happy with how the program has progressed.

“Fifteen months ago, 30 Greater Stick-nest Rats were selected from a remaining wild population on the Franklin Islands off the coast of South Australia to establish an important captive-breeding program at Monarto Safari Park,” says Liberty.

“From there, majority of those animals remained at Monarto, while some went to Adelaide Zoo or Alice Springs Desert Park in the Northern Territory."

“The rats wasted no time, with more than 40 pups being born across the sites since the program began."

“We’re thrilled to say the breeding program was incredibly successful and all the animals who arrived at Mallee Cliffs last month are offspring of that original population."

“They grew brilliantly and were all given a clean bill of health from our vets before being released,” finished Liberty.

greater stick nest rat release

A greater stick nest rat before the release

Photo Credit: D Sickerdick/AWC/DPIE (Department of Planning, Industry and Environment)

Greater stick nest rats may have to three pups each litter. These pups attach to mums teat and go where she goes for their first month of life until they are weaned off of milk.

You can see the greater stick nest rat at Adelaide Zoo while they are off display at Monarto Safari Park.

Learn more about Monarto Safari Park on their website – Monarto Safari Park

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