First successful eradication of invasive Norway rats Rattus norvegicus from a small Mediterranean island (Isola delle Femmine, Italy).
Invasive alien species, once introduced, may affect local biodiversity, both directly (e.g. by predation) and indirectly (e.g. by reducing the vegetation cover). Among those, rats (Rodentia, Muridae) are listed among the most invasive species, exerting strong impacts particularly when introduced to island ecosystems. Accordingly, black rats Rattus rattus have been eradicated from a number of islands in the Mediterranean basin to protect breeding seabirds. Where the larger Norway rat Rattus norvegicus is present, extent of damage may be even higher. In our work, we present the results of the first eradication program dealing with Norway rats in a small Mediterranean island (Isola delle Femmine, Sicily, Southern Italy). The eradication took place in 2007-2008 and, since then, no rat has been observed on the island, thus proving the success of the management action. Vegetal cover increased on the island after rat eradication. Furthermore, the Sardinian warbler and the blackbird started to breed on the island.