Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Rattus norvegicus
(brown rat)

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Datasheet

Rattus norvegicus (brown rat)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rattus norvegicus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • brown rat
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Mammalia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • R. norvegicus is globally widespread and costs primary industry hundreds of millions of dollars per year. It has caused or contributed to the extinction or range reduction of native mammals...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult, close view of facial area. Belle-Île-en-mer, Morbihan, France.
TitleAdult
CaptionRattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult, close view of facial area. Belle-Île-en-mer, Morbihan, France.
Copyright©Jean-Jacques Boujot-2013/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult, close view of facial area. Belle-Île-en-mer, Morbihan, France.
AdultRattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult, close view of facial area. Belle-Île-en-mer, Morbihan, France.©Jean-Jacques Boujot-2013/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult amongst fallen leaves. Alexandra Park, Hastings, East Sussex, UK. March, 2009.
TitleAdult
CaptionRattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult amongst fallen leaves. Alexandra Park, Hastings, East Sussex, UK. March, 2009.
Copyright©Dean Thorpe/via flickr/www.aspexdesign.co.uk - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult amongst fallen leaves. Alexandra Park, Hastings, East Sussex, UK. March, 2009.
AdultRattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult amongst fallen leaves. Alexandra Park, Hastings, East Sussex, UK. March, 2009.©Dean Thorpe/via flickr/www.aspexdesign.co.uk - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult, feeding on seed dropped from a bird feeder. Pennington Flash, nr Leigh, Lancashire, UK. February, 2009.
TitleAdult
CaptionRattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult, feeding on seed dropped from a bird feeder. Pennington Flash, nr Leigh, Lancashire, UK. February, 2009.
Copyright©John Hitchmough/via flickr - CC BY-NC 2.0
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult, feeding on seed dropped from a bird feeder. Pennington Flash, nr Leigh, Lancashire, UK. February, 2009.
AdultRattus norvegicus (brown rat); adult, feeding on seed dropped from a bird feeder. Pennington Flash, nr Leigh, Lancashire, UK. February, 2009.©John Hitchmough/via flickr - CC BY-NC 2.0
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); female, showing teats and genital area.
TitleFemale
CaptionRattus norvegicus (brown rat); female, showing teats and genital area.
Copyright©Crown Copyright 2011/GBNNSS
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); female, showing teats and genital area.
FemaleRattus norvegicus (brown rat); female, showing teats and genital area.©Crown Copyright 2011/GBNNSS
Rattus species comparison; (a) Rattus rattus (black rat). (b) Rattus norvegicus (brown rat). Museum mounted taxidermy specimens.
TitleSpecies comparison
CaptionRattus species comparison; (a) Rattus rattus (black rat). (b) Rattus norvegicus (brown rat). Museum mounted taxidermy specimens.
Copyright©Crown Copyright 2009/GBNNSS
Rattus species comparison; (a) Rattus rattus (black rat). (b) Rattus norvegicus (brown rat). Museum mounted taxidermy specimens.
Species comparisonRattus species comparison; (a) Rattus rattus (black rat). (b) Rattus norvegicus (brown rat). Museum mounted taxidermy specimens.©Crown Copyright 2009/GBNNSS
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); male, showing genital area.
TitleMale
CaptionRattus norvegicus (brown rat); male, showing genital area.
Copyright©Crown Copyright 2011/GBNNSS
Rattus norvegicus (brown rat); male, showing genital area.
MaleRattus norvegicus (brown rat); male, showing genital area.©Crown Copyright 2011/GBNNSS

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rattus norvegicus (Berkenhout, 1769)

Preferred Common Name

  • brown rat

Other Scientific Names

  • Epimys norvegicus Miller, 1912
  • Epimys rattus norvegicus
  • Mus decumanus Pallas, 1778
  • Mus hibernicus Thompson, 1837
  • Mus norvegicus Berkenhout, 1769
  • Rattus decumanus

International Common Names

  • English: common rat; house rat; house, rat, common; Norway rat; rat, brown; rat, Norwegian; sewer rat; water rat; wharf rat
  • Spanish: rata de alcantarilla; rata de cloacas; rata del alcantarilla; rata gris; rata noruega; rata parda
  • French: rat brun; rat d'egout; rat gris; rat surmolot; rat surmulot

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: rotte, brun; vandrerotte
  • Dominican Republic: Rata de noruega
  • Finland: isorotta; rotta
  • Germany: Ratte, Wander-; Wanderratte
  • Indonesia: tikus riul
  • Israel: hachulda hanorvegit
  • Italy: Ratto delle chiaviche; ratto di fogna; ratto grigio; surmolotto; Surmulotto; topo delle fogne; Topo di chiavica; Topo di fogna
  • Netherlands: Rat, bruine; Rioolrat
  • New Zealand: pouhawaiki
  • Norway: rotte; rotte, brun
  • Sweden: ratta, brun
  • Turkey: gocmen sicani

EPPO code

  • RATTNO (Rattus norvegicus)

Summary of Invasiveness

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R. norvegicus is globally widespread and costs primary industry hundreds of millions of dollars per year. It has caused or contributed to the extinction or range reduction of native mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates through predation and competition. It restricts the regeneration of many plant species by eating seeds and seedlings, eats food crops and spoils human food stores by urinating and defecating in them. Additional economic damage is caused by chewing through power cables and spreading diseases.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Mammalia
  •                     Order: Rodentia
  •                         Family: Muridae
  •                             Subfamily: Murinae
  •                                 Genus: Rattus
  •                                     Species: Rattus norvegicus

Description

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R. norvegicus has brown fur on the back with pale grey fur on its belly. The adults normally weigh 150 - 300g, and may reach up to 500g, and are up to 390mm long. They have relatively small ears - which usually do not cover the eyes when pulled forward. The tail is shorter than the head-body length - the opposite is true for the black rat R. rattus (Wittenberg, R. (ed.) 2005). Females have 12 nipples.

Distribution

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Native Range

R. norvegicus is believed to have originated in northeast China.

Known Introduced Range

R. norvegicus colonised Europe in the middle ages. It is now present in Europe, North and South America, Australia, Caribbean, Galapagos Islands, Mascarene Islands, Japan, New Zealand, Falkland Islands, Pacific Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, US minor outlying islands, and French Southern Territories. R. norvegicus is found on 36% of the world’s island groups (Atkinson 1985). There is ongoing risk of invasion of new islands.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaPresentNative Invasive ISSG, 2011
-XinjiangPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
IsraelPresentIntroduced1930ISSG, 2011
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Korea, Republic ofPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
SingaporePresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
Sri LankaPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
TaiwanPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001

Africa

Crozet IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
EgyptPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
MauritiusRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
RéunionPresentIntroduced1735 Invasive ISSG, 2011
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedprobably 1730-1800 Invasive ISSG, 2011
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentIntroducedafter 1700ISSG, 2011
SeychellesRestricted distributionIntroduced1995 Invasive ISSG, 2011

North America

BermudaPresentIntroducedend of the 18th century; Mid 1700s Invasive ISSG, 2011
CanadaRestricted distributionIntroduced1775 Invasive ISSG, 2011
-AlbertaRestricted distributionIntroduced1775 Invasive ISSG, 2011
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
MexicoRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Saint Pierre and MiquelonPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
USAPresentIntroducedc 1775 Invasive ISSG, 2011
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedPrior to 1780 Invasive ISSG, 2011
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1825-1835 Invasive Tobin and Sugihara, 1992; ISSG, 2011

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
BahamasPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedPresumably in 1500nulls Invasive ISSG, 2011
CubaPresentSchotman, 1989
CuraçaoPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
DominicaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedend of 18 century Invasive Schotman, 1989; ISSG, 2011
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Schotman, 1989; ISSG, 2011
MartiniquePresentIntroduced17 century Invasive Schotman, 1989; ISSG, 2011
MontserratPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Saint LuciaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Caribbean Conservation Association, 1991; ISSG, 2012
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentSchotman, 1989
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced1700 Invasive ISSG, 2011

South America

ArgentinaPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
BrazilPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
-ParaibaRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
-Rio de JaneiroPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
ChilePresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
EcuadorPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Falkland IslandsPresentIntroduced1725-1833/ late 18th century Invasive ISSG, 2011
French GuianaPresentSchotman, 1989
South Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsUnconfirmed recordIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
SurinamePresentSchotman, 1989
VenezuelaPresentSchotman, 1989

Europe

BelarusUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
BelgiumPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
DenmarkPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
FranceRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Isle of Man (UK)PresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
LatviaUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
LithuaniaUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
MaltaRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AzoresPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
SpainUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
SwitzerlandPresentIntroducedc. 1809ISSG, 2011
UKRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
-ScotlandRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroducedpre-1924? Invasive ISSG, 2011
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced1850-1885 Invasive ISSG, 2011
FijiPresentIntroduced19th century Invasive ISSG, 2011
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedpre-1921 Invasive ISSG, 2011
-MarquesasPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
French Southern and Antarctic TerritoriesPresentIntroduced1931 Invasive ISSG, 2011
GuamPresentIntroducedLate 50s Invasive ISSG, 2011
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedpre-1932 Invasive ISSG, 2011
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedpre-1944 Invasive ISSG, 2011
New ZealandRestricted distributionIntroduced1773 Invasive ISSG, 2011
-Kermadec IslandsPresentIntroduced1921 Invasive ISSG, 2011
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedLate 1800s Invasive ISSG, 2011
PalauPresentIntroducedpre-1931 Invasive ISSG, 2011; ISSG, 2013Reported on Bobeldaob and Koror Islands; established on Kayangel Island
Phoenix IslandsUnconfirmed recordIntroduced1828–1840 Invasive ISSG, 2011
SamoaPresentIntroduced1762-1923 Invasive ISSG, 2011
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
TuvaluPresentIntroduced1850-1896 Invasive ISSG, 2011
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroducedpre-1887 Invasive ISSG, 2011
VanuatuPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011

History of Introduction and Spread

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R. norvegicus probably arrived in Europe in the middle ages and certainly by the early 1700s, and from there hitch-hiked around the world on boats, leading to accidental introductions to the Americas, Australia and Africa, as well as to island groups. It is currently found in 36% of the world’s island groups (Atkinson, 1985). Once an island group is colonised R. norvegicus is able to colonise throughout the archipelago rapidly through further hitch-hiking and natural dispersal, including swimming. It is capable of swimming 2.5km.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No Restricted distribution around coast
Faroe Islands 1768 Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No Shpiwreck
Finland Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No
Germany Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No
Madagascar Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No
Mauritius Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No Agalega Island
Norway 1762 Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No
Russian Federation Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No
South Africa Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No
Spain Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No
Sweden 1790 Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No
Zanzibar   Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes No Walsh (2007) Unguja Island

Risk of Introduction

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R. norvegicus is the primary rat used in laboratory research, but the inbred albino laboratory form is unlikely to pose any significant invasive risk. R. norvegicus is also a common pet, and this form may pose a slightly greater invasive risk, although it is unlikely to be a pet outside its current introduced range.

Habitat

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R. norvegicus can be widespread, utilising most habitat types. In its introduced range, on continents (Europe, Americas) and large islands (UK) it is more closely associated with humans (both cities and rural environments, although also free-living in damp environments such as riverbanks) and it is dominant over other introduced rats. This situation is reversed on oceanic islands (such as New Zealand) where it is free-living in forest and wetland habitats but is dominated by black rats (King et al., 2011). R. orvegicus rarely climbs trees.

At high density (such as rural UK farms) the home range of R. norvegicus is less than a hectare (Lambert et al., 2008) but in medium densities (such as forested New Zealand islands) this can increases up to 5 ha (Bramley, 2014) or even greater than 10 ha when invading islands (Russell et al., 2010).  R. norvegicus is considered to be territorial throughout most of the year, but will spread when food is scarce, and migrations have been observed (Wittenberg, 2005). From the distribution and recorded reinvasions of R. norvegicus it appears that it can cross up to 1km of water comfortably, and up to 2km of open water more rarely when conditions are suitable (such as mudflats, intermediate rocky islets and suitable tidal flows) (Russell and Clout, 2005).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Macadamia integrifolia (macadamia nut)ProteaceaeMain
Musa (banana)MusaceaeMain
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)PoaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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    Nutrition

    R. norvegicus is omnivorous and opportunistic and will eat raw or cooked meat and vegetable matter, grains and other seeds and berries as well as roots and a wide variety of vertebrate and invertebrate species, including from the inter-tidal zone (Kurle et al., 2008). Adults require about 10% of their body weight per day in dry grain, and when on a dry diet they need to drink about 25ml of water per day. R. norvegicus in captivity has been observed to withdraw food to the nest, and sometimes store it there (Barnett and Spencer, 1951).

    R. norvegicus on Breaksea Island, New Zealand, has been reported to eat invertebrates (beetles, spiders, wetas and flies), fish, shellfish, vegetation, and birds. A Japanese study showed that R. norvegicus is essentially omnivorous, eating plant matter and animal matter (such as insects) in equal volumes (Yabe, 2004). R. norvegicus has also been known to attack and kill young rabbits (Bettesworth, 1972; B. Zonfrillo, pers. comm.; M. Imber, pers. obs.; in Imber et al., 2000).  

    Reproduction

    Placental, sexual. Females are polyestrous and ovulate spontaneously. Breeding is largely determined by food availability.
    Litter size normally 6 - 11, gestation is 21-24 days, young weaned at about 28 days. Females can be sexually active in the season of their birth.

    Lifecycle Stages

    On Fregate Island in the Seychelles, juvenile rats first ventured from the den when they weighed 30-50g (Thorsen et al., 2000).

    Activity Patterns

    The home range of R. norvegicus averaged 5.8 ha for males and 5.1 ha for females, according to the results from a small study on Kapiti Island off New Zealand (Bramley, 1999; in Innes, 2001). In the UK, male rats had a mean range length of 678 m, with that of females being smaller (Macdonald et al., 1999; in Innes, 2001).

    Climate

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    ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
    A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Tolerated Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
    Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
    Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
    As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
    Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
    C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
    Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
    Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
    Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
    D - Continental/Microthermal climate Preferred Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)
    Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
    Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
    Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Preferred Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

    Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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    Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
    65 55

    Natural enemies

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    Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
    Bubo bubo Predator
    Capillaria hepatica Parasite
    Felis catus Predator
    Felis silvestris Predator
    Mustela erminea Predator
    Tyto alba Predator

    Means of Movement and Dispersal

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    Accidental Introduction

    R. norvegicus can be transported at all levels (local, national and international) in either bulk or loose equipment or simply by stowing away on a marine vessel (large or small). Its habit of living near wharves increases the chances of this happening.

    Natural Dispersal

    R. norvegicus can swim up to 2 km.

    Pathway Causes

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    CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
    HitchhikerHistorically introduced by boat. Still locally introduced by boat today Yes Yes Russell et al., 2008

    Pathway Vectors

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    VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
    Bulk freight or cargoAll life stages can hitch-hike on cargo, usually at low density Yes Yes Russell et al., 2008
    Floating vegetation and debrisMay assist local disperse to new islands Yes

    Impact Summary

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    CategoryImpact
    Crop production Negative
    Economic/livelihood Negative
    Native fauna Negative
    Native flora Negative

    Impact

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    R. norvegicus is known to restrict the regeneration of many plant species by eating seeds and seedlings. It preys upon most animal species smaller than itself, such as reptiles, small birds, birds eggs, small mammals and freshwater and intertidal species. R. norvegicus eats food crops and spoils human food stores by urinating and defecating in them. Additional economic damage is caused by rats chewing through power cables and spreading diseases. Both R. norvegicus and R. rattus transmit the plague bacterium (Yersinia pestis).

    Threatened Species

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    Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
    Charadrius alexandrinus nivosusUSA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesCalifornia; Oregon; WashingtonPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007
    Pleomele fernaldii (hala pepe)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Cyanea solanacea (popolo)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Cyanea tritomantha (`aku)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013a
    Cyrtandra wagneriNatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013a
    Cyrtandra nanawaleensisUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013a
    Eua zebrina (Tutuila tree snail)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesAmerican SamoaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014a
    Mucuna sloanei var. persericeaNatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Myrsine vaccinioides (Violet Lake colicwood)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Newcombia cumingi (Newcomb's tree snail)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Oceanodroma castro (band-rumped storm-petrel)LC (IUCN red list: Least concern) LC (IUCN red list: Least concern); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesMontanaPredation,
    Oreomystis bairdi (akikiki)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006b
    Orthalicus reses (Stock Island tree snail)USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesFloridaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009c
    Partulina semicarinata (Lanai tree snail)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Partulina variabilis (Lanai tree snail)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Peperomia subpetiolata (Waikamoi peperomia)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Perognathus longimembris pacificus (Pacific pocket mouse)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCaliforniaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
    Pittosporum halophylumNatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013b
    Pittosporum hawaiiense (Hawai'i cheesewood)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013a
    Pittosporum napaliense (royal cheesewood)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
    Platydesma rostrataCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
    Porzana tabuensis (spotless crake)LC (IUCN red list: Least concern) LC (IUCN red list: Least concern)American SamoaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014b
    Pritchardia lanigeraEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013a
    Pritchardia remota (Remota loula palm)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiRootingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009b; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011a
    Pritchardia viscosa (stickybud pritchardia)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiRootingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010d
    Psychotria grandiflora (large-flowered balsamo)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiRootingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
    Psychotria hobdyi (Hobdy's wild-coffee)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiRootingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
    Pteralyxia kauaiensis (Kauai pteralyxia)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiRootingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995
    Reithrodontomys raviventris (salt-marsh harvest mouse)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCaliforniaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010e
    Remya montgomeryi (Kalalau Valley remya)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alteration; Herbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
    Remya montgomeryi (Kalalau Valley remya)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alteration; Herbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
    Sanicula purpurea (purpleflower blacksnakeroot)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011b
    Santalum freycinetianum var. lanaienseNo DetailsHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011c
    Schiedea diffusa subsp. macraeiNatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013a
    Schiedea haleakalensis (Haleakala schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011d
    Schiedea hawaiiensis (island schiedea)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013a
    Schiedea hookeri (sprawling schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011e
    Schiedea lydgatei (Kamalo Gulch schiedea)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alteration; Herbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011f
    Schiedea sarmentosaUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011g
    Stenogyne cranwelliae (Kohala Mountain stenogyne)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013a
    Sterna antillarum (least tern)LC (IUCN red list: Least concern) LC (IUCN red list: Least concern); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesPredationNatureServe, 2011
    Sterna antillarum browni (California least tern)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCaliforniaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006a
    Zosterops conspicillatus conspicillatus (bridled white-eye)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009a

    Risk and Impact Factors

    Top of page Invasiveness
    • Invasive in its native range
    • Proved invasive outside its native range
    • Highly adaptable to different environments
    • Is a habitat generalist
    • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
    • Highly mobile locally
    • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
    • Fast growing
    • Has high reproductive potential
    Impact outcomes
    • Altered trophic level
    • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
    • Conflict
    • Damaged ecosystem services
    • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
    • Increases vulnerability to invasions
    • Infrastructure damage
    • Modification of nutrient regime
    • Modification of successional patterns
    • Negatively impacts agriculture
    • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
    • Negatively impacts human health
    • Negatively impacts animal health
    • Negatively impacts livelihoods
    • Negatively impacts tourism
    • Reduced amenity values
    • Reduced native biodiversity
    • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
    • Threat to/ loss of native species
    • Transportation disruption
    • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
    • Damages animal/plant products
    • Negatively impacts trade/international relations
    Impact mechanisms
    • Competition - monopolizing resources
    • Pest and disease transmission
    • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
    • Interaction with other invasive species
    • Predation
    • Rooting
    Likelihood of entry/control
    • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
    • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

    Uses

    Top of page

    Economic Value

    Although R. norvegicus is an unintentional introduction outside its native range, it is the primary rat used in laboratories for research, in an in-bred albino form. The widespread use of R. norvegicus as a research model does provide insight for scientists working on the invasive wild form (such as mapped genome). R. norvegicus is also a common pet.

    Social Benefit

    In developing nations R. norvegicus captured for crop protection may be eaten as supplementary or famine food.

    Uses List

    Top of page

    General

    • Laboratory use
    • Pet/aquarium trade
    • Research model

    Human food and beverage

    • Emergency (famine) food

    Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

    Top of page

    Similar species are Rattus exulans and R. rattus.

    R. exulans has less than one third the maximum body weight of R. norvegicus (130 g compared to 450 g), and it has a much shorter maximum head-body length (excluding tail) than R. norvegicus (180 mm compared to 275 mm). R. exulans’ tail length is approximately the same as its head-body length and it has eight nipples compared to the 12 of R. norvegicus. Droppings left by R. exulans are half as long (6.4-9.0 mm) as those of R. norvegicus (13.4-19.1 mm). R. exulans is an agile climber. It is not known to burrow but digs small holes and nests mainly on the ground. It feeds on the ground and in trees and is an infrequent swimmer. R. norvegicus burrows extensively, nests underground and is a strong swimmer. It climbs much less frequently than other rats and is very wary (Cunningham and Moors, 1993).

    R. rattus is lighter and has a shorter maximum head-body length (excluding tail) than R. norvegicus. Its tail is much longer than its head-body length and is uniformly coloured. R. norvegicus’ tail is clearly shorter than its head-body length, and it has a pale underside. The upper side of the hind foot of R. rattus is usually dark, whereas it is always completely pale in R. norvegicus. Droppings left by R. rattus are almost half as long (6.8-13.8 mm) as those of R. norvegicus (13.4-19.1 mm). R. rattus is a very agile and frequent climber; rarely burrows, nests mainly in trees and shrubs and is an infrequent swimmer.

    Prevention and Control

    Top of page

    Preventative Measures

    Research has shown that it can often be difficult to eradicate rats from islands in the early stages of invasion; hence it is better to prevent rodents arriving at new locations in the first place. Eliminating a single invading rat can be disproportionately difficult because of atypical behaviour by the rat in the absence of conspecifics, and because bait can be less effective in the absence of competition for food (Russell et al., 2005). Weihong et al. (1999) provided useful information regarding the detection of rodent species using different trapping methods and bait. Dilks and Towns (2002) and Russell et al. (2008) discussed how to detect and respond to rodent invasions on islands.

    Physical Control

    Trapping is often used on a local scale for control around farms, crops and small wildlife areas; however, it generally fails to remove all individuals, as trap-shy animals can survive and repopulate. Neophobia (wariness to new objects) is common in human-associated populations, but less important in free-ranging animals (such as those on islands).

    Chemical Control

    Use of anticoagulant poisons is the most common method of control and eradication. Anticoagulant poisons can be bought over the counter in most countries and used for local scale control around farms, crops and small to medium-sized (up to 1,000 ha) wildlife areas. Baits are delivered using ground-based methods either spread by hand or in bait stations (spaced at 50 to 200 m). On islands, eradications have been achieved by the use of ground and, more recently, aerially distributed poisons. However, strict quarantine is required to prevent further spread of this species to additional islands. One of the world's largest successful eradication operations was on the 3,100 ha Langara Island in British Columbia, Canada. The ground-based eradication campaign began (after preparation and trials) in July 1995 and the island was declared free of rats in May 1997 (Kaiser et al., 1997). The world's largest aerial eradication project of rats to date was on Campbell Island (11,300 ha), where eradication was declared in 2003. Staged eradication of R. norvegicus from isolated glacial valleys on South Georgia Island (390,300 ha) is currently underway (2014). As of 2014, R. norvegicus has been eradicated from over 200 islands around the world (DIISE, 2014).

    Brodifacoum, the most widely used rodenticide in New Zealand currently, can acquire persistent residues in non-target wildlife. Mineau et al. (2004) discussed a risk assessment of second generation rodenticides at the 2nd National Invasive Rodent Summit. O'Connor and Eason (2000) and Eason and Ogilvie (2009) discussed the variety of baits which are available for use on islands for eradication. R. norvegicus has been recorded acquiring resistance to both first and second generation anticoagulant poisons in high density environments with exceptionally long histories of rat control using such toxins (Buckle et al., 1994).

    Bait station design can affect bait uptake. An investigation by Spurr et al. (2006) was carried out to assess the behavioural response of R. norvegicus to four different bait station types. Yellow plastic pipe and wooden box (‘rat motel’) bait stations were found most suitable for surveillance of R. norvegicus (both traps were readily entered and had a similar amount of bait eaten from them).

    Biological Control

    Contraceptive methods of control are currently experimental, but the potential for effective control using contraceptive methods is promising. National Wildlife Research Center (USA) scientists are working on several possible formulations that may make effective oral immunisation possible (Nash and Miller, 2004).

    Guidelines for the Eradication of Rats From Islands Within the Falklands Group offers guidelines for the eradication of rats from islands, based on the experiences in eradicating rats from the Falklands group.

    Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

    Top of page

    Very little is known about the biology of R. norvegicus in its native range, which is itself not clearly defined given the long history of commensal association.

    As a global agricultural and conservation pest species further work is required to develop novel tools and technologies to control R. norvegicus which are more humane, cheaper, more efficient and with less side-effects. Current control and eradication technologies rely on tools and technologies over 50 years old (such as kill traps and anti-coagulant poisons).

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    Top of page

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    Taylor R. H. & Thomas B. W. 1989. Eradication of Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) from Hawea island, Fjordland, using brodifaceum. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 12: 23 - 32.

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    Veitch, C. R., 2002a. Eradication of Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) and house mouse (Mus musculus) from Motuihe Island, New Zealand In Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species: 381-388. Veitch, C.R. and Clout, M.N.(eds). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. IUCN. Gland. Switzerland and Cambridge. UK.

    Veitch, C. R., 2002c. Eradication of Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) and house mouse (Mus musculus) from Browns Island (Motukorea), Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. In Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species: 381-388. Veitch, C.R. and Clout, M.N.(eds). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. IUCN. Gland. Switzerland and Cambridge. UK.

    Weihong, Ji.; C.R. Dick Veitch and John, L. Craig., 1999. An evaluation of the efficiency of rodent trapping methods: the effect of trap arrangement, cover type and bait. New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1999) 23(1): 45-51 ©New Zealand Ecological Society http://www.newzealandecology.org/nzje/free_issues/NZJEcol23_1_45.pdf

    West., C. J., 2002. Eradication of alien plants on Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands, New Zealand. In Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species: 381-388. Veitch, C.R. and Clout, M.N.(eds). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. IUCN. Gland.

    Wittenberg, R. (ed.) 2005. An inventory of alien species and their threat to biodiversity and economy in Switzerland. CABI Bioscience Switzerland Centre report to the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape http://www.nobanis.org/files/invasives%20in%20CH.pdf

    Zeppelini, Douglas; Rita Mascarenhas & Guntram G. Meier, 2007. Rat Eradication as Part of a Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) Conservation Program in an Urban Area in Cabedelo, Paraíba State, Brazil. Marine Turtle Newsletter No. 117, 2007 - Page 5 and 6 http://www.seaturtle.org/mtn/archives/mtn117/

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    Links to Websites

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    WebsiteURLComment
    Database of Island Invasive Species Eradications (DIISE)http://eradicationsdb.fos.auckland.ac.nz/
    GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
    Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
    Kiwi Natural Historyhttp://www.kiwinaturalhistory.com/The website includes details of the Campell Island rat eradication DVD produced for the NZ Department of Conservation
    New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC)http://doc.govt.nz/publications/science-and-technical/
    Pacific Invasives Initiative (PII)http://www.pacificinvasivesinitiative.org/
    Vertebrate Pest Control: Decision Support Systemhttp://pestdss.landcareresearch.co.nz/This site aims to help New Zealanders to select the most appropriate options for controlling vertebrate pests in a particular NZ locality. Pests are feral cat, ferret, possum, rat and stoat.

    Organizations

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    USA: Island Conservation, 2161 Delaware Ave., Suite A, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, http://www.islandconservation.org/

    New Zealand: New Zealand Department of Conservation, PO Box 10420, Wellington 6143, http://doc.govt.nz/

    New Zealand: Pacific Invasives Initiative, The University of Auckland Tamaki Innovation Campus, Private Bag 92019 Auckland 1142, http://www.pacificinvasivesinitiative.org/

    Contributors

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    27/04/14 Reviewed by: James Russell, Consultant, New Zealand

    Reviewed by: Pete McClelland, Dept. of Conservation, Invercargill, New Zealand

        Compiled by: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group Updates with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment
       
        Last Modified: Monday, October 04, 2010

       

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