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BUSH RAT

Rattus fuscipes assimilis

The Bush Rat is a small nocturnal mammal, found in coastal areas from Rockhampton through to Victoria.

It is seldom seen in the wild, unless trapped, due to its preference for dense ground cover in Eucalypt and rain forests, sub alpine woodland and coastal scrub. Preference is given to areas where low growing ferns,

shrubs and fallen trees can provide shelter. Its diet consists mainly of insects, but fungi, seeds and vegetation such as roots and plant stems is also consumed, in fact this mammal will eat anything it can find if food is scarce.

It spends most of the time within a burrow, coming out to forage for food after dark.

 

 

It has soft brown or grey fur, underbelly is much lighter, as is the feet, its ears are large and rounded. Teeth as the same as feral rats.

 

 

 

 

 

Notice the length of toes, three middle back foot toes are same length, this differs from feral rat that has toes that differ in length, image below is of a juvenile bush rat .

 

 

 

 

 

Young are born weighing about 5 gram, and become independent at about 40 gram. Males and females disperse from the maternal territory to establish small individual home ranges. 10 individuals may occupy 1 hectare, and it is not unusual for a male to travel up to 1 km a night foraging for food. During breeding time, he may travel up to 2 km in search of a female.

The Bush Rat may even survive a bush fire as it shelters in burrows or rock crevices throughout the fire. Coming out after the fire it can survive on un burnt plants, and new young shoots of plants that emerge shortly after a bush fire. The population greatly increases 4-5 years after a fire, due to the lush habitat of rapid re growth, but as the habitat returns to normal, and the predators return, the population once again goes back to normal.

Head and body length is 111mm-194mm. Tail length is usually slightly shorter than the head and body length. Average weight is 125gram, but populations can vary greatly. Females are usually slightly smaller than males.

Importance of tree hollows

 

Reference:

Encyclopedia of Australian Wildlife. Readers Digest 2005 edition

The Australian Museum Complete book of Australian Mammals

 

Images by Susanne Ulyatt & Alicia Carter

Updated April 13, 2014

Webmaster: Susanne Ulyatt

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