Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Rattus exulans
(Pacific rat)

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Datasheet

Rattus exulans (Pacific rat)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rattus exulans
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Pacific rat
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Mammalia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The Pacific rat, R. exulans, is an major agricultural and environmentalpest in parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Thought to have spread with Polynesian colonists over the past sev...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Rattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, wild specimen on a banana flower.
TitleAdult
CaptionRattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, wild specimen on a banana flower.
Copyright©Gerald McCormack/CINHT
Rattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, wild specimen on a banana flower.
AdultRattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, wild specimen on a banana flower.©Gerald McCormack/CINHT
Rattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, wild specimen. Note the charteristic marking on the hind legs.
TitleAdult
CaptionRattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, wild specimen. Note the charteristic marking on the hind legs.
Copyright©Gerald McCormack/CINHT
Rattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, wild specimen. Note the charteristic marking on the hind legs.
AdultRattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, wild specimen. Note the charteristic marking on the hind legs.©Gerald McCormack/CINHT
Rattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, captive specimen.
TitleAdult
CaptionRattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, captive specimen.
Copyright©Gerald McCormack/CINHT
Rattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, captive specimen.
AdultRattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, captive specimen.©Gerald McCormack/CINHT
Rattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, captive specimen.
TitleAdult
CaptionRattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, captive specimen.
Copyright©Gerald McCormack/CINHT
Rattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, captive specimen.
AdultRattus exulans (Pacific rat); adult, captive specimen.©Gerald McCormack/CINHT

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rattus exulans (Peale, 1848)

Preferred Common Name

  • Pacific rat

Other Scientific Names

  • Mus exulans (Peale, 1848)
  • Mus huegeli Thomas, 1880
  • Mus jessook Jentink, 1879
  • Mus maorium Hutton, 1877
  • Mus vitiensis Peale, 1848
  • Rattus concolor (Blyth, 1859)
  • Rattus hawaiiensis Stone, 1917

International Common Names

  • English: bush rat; concolor rat; little Burmese rat; little house rat; Maori rat; Pacific island rat; Polynesian rat
  • Spanish: rata

Local Common Names

  • Malaysia: tikus rumah kechil
  • New Zealand: kiore
  • Philippines: bagtok; balagtok; daga; ilaga
  • Tokelau: kimoa
  • USA/Hawaii: iole

EPPO code

  • RATTEX (Rattus exulans)

Summary of Invasiveness

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The Pacific rat, R. exulans, is an major agricultural and environmentalpest in parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Thought to have spread with Polynesian colonists over the past several thousand years, it is now found through much of the Pacific basin, and is extensively distributed in the tropical Pacific. It poses a significant threat to indigenous wildlife, particularly ground-nesting birds, and has been linked to the extinction of several bird species. R. exulans may also transmit diseases to humans.

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 exulans

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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R. exulans belongs to the genus Rattus (Fischer), the genus of the true rats and mice.

Lectotype: Mus exulans Peale (see Poole and Shantz, 1942). Rattus exulans (Peale) (see Poole and Shantz, 1942).

The 12 species of small rats comprising the Concolor-Ephippium Group (Taylor, 1934) are now considered as sub-species of Rattus exulans where 'some are no longer considered distinct' at that level (Sanborn, 1952). Rabor (1977) describes a sub-species Rattus exulans negrinus (Thomas) with the common name ‘Negros small field rat’ (after Negros island in the Philippines).

See also Chasen (1925), Sody (1941), Harrison (1966), Medway (1978) and Lekagul and McNeely (1988).

Description

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Barbehenn et al. (1973) described R. exulans as the smallest of the 'typical' rats in the Philippines. Its average adult mass is 63 ± 2 g (mean ± SE) on Pacific islands and ranges from 39-120 g (Shiels and Pitt, 2014). Maximum head-body length is 180 mm; ears are 15.5-20.5 mm, and the hind foot averages 27 mm (range: 22-31 mm) (Atkinson and Towns, 2005). Plantar pads are well developed and lamellate. R. exulans often has dark-coloured upper sides of hind feet which is unlike R. rattus, R. norvegicus, and Mus musculus, which all have uniformly colouring over whole feet (Atkinson and Towns, 2005).

The belly fur is dark grey with white or pale grey tips. The body fur is reddish-brown to grey-brown, with guard hairs on the dorsal side (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011); however, colouration of the pelage is variable and may not be highly distinctive. The mammary formula is 2 + 2 = 8.

Van Peenan et al. (1969) gave the following measurements for specimens in Vietnam (part of its native range):
total length: 240-285 mm
tail: 116-152 mm
hindfoot: 22-26 mm
ear: 16-19 mm
ratio of tail to head and body: 116% (85-120% quoted by Harrison (1966))
skull (greatest length): 22-26 mm
zygomatic breadth: 13.8-15.5 mm
maxillary tooth row: 4.5-5.8 mm
length of auditory bullae: 4.6-5.8 mm.

Distribution

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See Maps and Distribution Table. R. exulans is restricted to the Pacific basin. Although extensively distributed in the tropical Pacific, it is also found in temperate areas of New Zealand (to 48oS latitude; Shiels and Pitt, 2014). In the Philippines, R. exulans occurs on Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro and Palawan islands (Barbehenn et al., 1973).

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

BangladeshPresentPosamentier, 1989
CambodiaPresentReynes et al., 2003
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNational Animal Pest Alert, 2011Andaman Islands
IndonesiaWidespreadSoekarna et al., 1980
-SumatraPresentNational Animal Pest Alert, 2011
MalaysiaPresentMedway, 1978; Embi, 1980
MyanmarPresentNational Animal Pest Alert, 2011
PhilippinesWidespreadRabor, 1955; National Animal Pest Alert, 2011
SingaporeWidespreadSearle and Dhaliwal 1961; Ho, 1980
TaiwanPresentLu and Hsiu, 2003
ThailandPresentSudto, 1980
VietnamWidespreadVan Peenan et al. 1969

North America

USARestricted distributionStorer 1962; Nass, 1977
-HawaiiPresentDunlevy et al., 2000; Shiels et al., 2013

Oceania

AustraliaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedNational Animal Pest Alert, 2011Established populations on Australian islands
Micronesia, Federated states ofWidespreadStorer 1962
New CaledoniaPresentTheuerkauf et al., 2007
New ZealandPresentRuscoe, 2004
Norfolk IslandPresentNational Animal Pest Alert, 2011
Papua New GuineaPresentNational Animal Pest Alert, 2011Including the Bismarck Archipelago
Solomon IslandsPresentNational Animal Pest Alert, 2011

History of Introduction and Spread

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R. exulans is believed to have been introduced throughout the Pacific by early Polynesian colonists as they colonized the Pacific from west to east (Matisoo-Smith et al., 1998; Wilmshurst et al., 2008). Western Polynesia (including Samoa and Tonga) was colonized by Polynesians (and therefore R. exulans as well) 3000-4000 years ago, and recent evidence suggests that eastern Polynesia, including New Zealand, Hawaii, and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) was colonized by Polynesians 1190-1290CE; the Society Islands were colonized slightly earlier, probably about 1025-1120 (Wilmshurst et al., 2011). The earliest record of R. exulans in Australia is from Adele Island (northern Western Australia) in 1891 (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

Risk of Introduction

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R. exulans is closely associated with human settlement and is often accidentally transported to new areas by people (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

Aircraft and ships are vectors for repeated introductions of stowaway R. exulans. Contemporary introductions of R. exulans into areas that have never had rats or have eradicated rats are of particular concern. Formal regulations against rat transport and establishment are generally lacking, although some countries require routine inspection of ships in their ports and also require biosecurity measures for ships docking to reduce the risk of importing rodents.

There is a high risk that R. exulans could establish on mainland Australia and Australian islands, and become an agricultural, environmental and social pest. There are already established populations on some Australian islands and islands elsewhere in the Pacific. 'Agricultural crops that could be at risk [in Australia] include cereals, flowers, fruit (such as grapes, pineapples and passionfruit), legumes, nuts oil seeds, sugarcane and vegetables' (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

Habitat

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R. exulans may be found in coastal areas, grasslands, bush, shrub vegetation adjoining croplands, edges of original forest and second-growth forest. It is also found in stored grain. In the Philippines, it is more common on highlands than in the lowlands, and on interior land areas more than coastal areas (Rabor, 1977). However, R. exulans is common in lowland habitats (including coastlines) on many tropical atolls in the Pacific and on low-elevation islands off North and South Islands, New Zealand. Lindsey et al. (1999) captured R. exulans at 1650 m elevation in Hawaii.

Barbehenn et al. (1973) described the distribution of R. exulans in the Philippines. It can be found at high elevations (2250 m) in sweet potato plantations on Mount Data, in northern Luzon island. It is common in gardens and on the periphery of ricefields on Luzon and Mindoro islands, but is generally not abundant inside ricefields. It is rarely found in the lowlands of Mindanao island, even in vegetation of Imperata cylindrica and Saccharum spontaneum. It is the predominant ricefield rat in Palawan island.

It can coexist with larger rat species such as R. argentiventer and R. rattus mindanensis (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011). However, R. rattus tends to outcompete R. exulans or displace it to more remote areas (Shiels, 2010; National Animal Pest Alert, 2011; Shiels et al., 2013). For example, R. exulans was once widespread throughout all suitable habitats in New Zealand, but now (on the mainland North and South Islands) it is apparently confined to parts of Fiordland, Southland, and south Westland (Atkinson and Towns, 2005).

R. exulans is closely associated with human settlements, although on Adele Island (northern Western Australia) it lives in spinifex hummock grassland completely away from human habitation (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

Hosts/Species Affected

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The diet of R. exulans in agricultural areas can include rice, coconuts, maize, palms, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, cassava, sugarcane and insects (Kami, 1966; Wood, 1994). Animals can comprise a significant portion of the Pacific rat diet; arthropods are generally the most common animals consumed, yet less often seabirds, forest birds, land snails and lizards can also be consumed when available (Atkinson and Towns, 2005; Shiels and Pitt, 2014). Plant material generally dominates R. exulans diet in forests and agricultural settings (Stecker and Jackson, 1962; Williams, 1973; Shiels et al., 2013; Shiels and Pitt, 2014).  In the Tokelau Islands, northeast of New Zealand, 87.6% of R. exulans diet was coconuts found on the ground (Mosby and Wodzicki, 1973).

Strecker and Jackson (1962) reported that field rats on the Pacific island of Pohnpei, including R. exulans, fed on cereals, groundnuts, sugarcane, candy, cheese, fish, meat, ripening bananas, tapioca, tomatoes, beans, pineapples, pawpaws, soursop (Annona muricata), cocoa, passion fruits, seeds on spikes of Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), fruits of rainforest trees and snails.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Post-harvest, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / external feeding
Growing point / external feeding
Inflorescence / external feeding
Leaves / external feeding
Roots / external feeding
Seeds / external feeding
Stems / external feeding
Whole plant / external feeding

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

Like many other rodents, the length of the oestrus cycle of adult female R. exulans is 4-6 days. R. exulans can breed throughout the year. In Hawaii, the peak in reproduction was from October to December (Tamarin and Malecha, 1971). In New Zealand, breeding is from September to March (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

The gestation period for R. exulans is 19-23 days. Young rats are born blind, pinkish and without hair. Young can see and hear at 2 weeks old (Atkinson and Towns, 2005). They are weaned from their mother at 20-28 days old and generally mature at 8-12 weeks old (though this may occur sooner). Individuals can be sexually mature at less than 50 g (Atkinson and Towns, 2005). Rats may exhibit postpartum heat or oestrus and can be impregnated and fertilized while nursing their young. Average life expectancy in the wild is about one year.

Sumangil (1990) reported that in 1958, samples of R. exulans from Mindoro island in the Philippines had 3.83 pregnancies per year, with an average litter size of 4.07 and an annual productivity of 16. Litter size can vary from one to nine (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011), and in New Zealand they averaged four to seven (Atkinson and Towns, 2005). Williams (1973) reported that in Ponape (Pohnpei) litter size ranged from one to 10 (average 3.8), and that researchers failed to increase that rate of reproduction with R. exulans. Williams (1973) also reported that 1-13 (average 5.2) litters were born each year and most females had a reproductive lifespan of less than one year in tropical Ponape.

Many factors (such as rainfall) affect rat reproduction. Temme (1981) reported that R. exulans has two to six litters per year, with two to five young in each litter (average litter size: 3.5). See also Wood (1994).

Activity

R. exulans is very agile; it is good at running and jumping and at climbing trees. It does not burrow extensively and constructs its nest mainly in leaf litter, under forest debris, beneath brush, and in crevices (Temme, 1981). R. exulans is mainly nocturnal, like other Rattus species, but it becomes increasingly diurnal at high population densities.

Diet

R. exulans is omnivorous, eating seeds, flowers, fruits and other plant parts, snails, insects and larvae, earthworms, lizards and birds and their eggs and chicks (Shiels and Pitt, 2014). R. exulans often carriesy food to small husking stations that provide shelter from predators, competitors and the elements during feeding (Cambell et al., 1984).

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Felis catus Predator not specific Shiels et al., 2013
Herpestes auropunctatus Predator not specific
Mustela erminea Predator
Tyto alba Predator not specific Shiels et al., 2013

Notes on Natural Enemies

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R. exulans is commonly hunted by owls, hawks, snakes, cats and dogs.

Parasites that affect rats are mentioned by Sandosham (1953), Audy and Harrison (1954), Lim and Heyneman (1965) and Atkinson and Towns (2005). Some of these include various mites, lice, fleas and nematodes (Atkinson and Towns, 2005).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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R. exulans 'is closely associated with human settlement and is often accidentally transported to new areas by people' (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

Economic Impact

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R. exulans is a major agricultural pest in some parts of southeast Asia and throughout Pacific. Its effects on crops and storage are often combined with those of the larger and more dominant rodent species (such as R. rattus, R. argentiventer or R. norvegicus).

R. exulans is very damaging to rice, sugarcane and, in Melanesia, to tuber crops such as sweet potato, but it has also been reported to damage a wide range of other crops. It can also damage plant stems, flowers, pollen, fruit and seeds by gnawing, which can increase the plants’ susceptibility to infection and disease (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

In the Philippines, rat damage to crops ranges from 2 to 50% of production: ricefields suffered a national average loss of 2-6% in 1971-1975 (aggregrate losses due to the four rat species were about US$ 36,000,000 in 1975 before the implementation of IPM measures against rodents and decreased to US$ 3,500,000 in 1977); damage to sugarcane was 30-50%, resulting in an 8% loss for sugar production (around US$ 2,000,000 in 1967); nut damage was 14-40% (PCARRD, 1985). In Thailand, rat damage to rice has caused annual losses of about US$ 9,000,000 (Benigno and Sanchez, 1984).

In a survey of 48 warehouses in the Philippines (Sumangil, 1977), R. exulans comprised 4.81% of the rodent population, which was dominated by R. norvegicus (56.06%). Storage losses ranged from 0.6 tons to 1.25 tons per warehouse (PCARRD, 1985). In Sarawak, Malaysia, storage losses of about 5-10% have been reported (Hopf et al., 1976).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Biodiversity

R. exulans competes with and predates on indigenous wildlife (Towns et al., 2006). It has been linked with the extinction of the greater short-tailed bat (Mystacina robusta) in New Zealand, as well as falling numbers of ground-nesting birds, reptiles and large flightless invertebrates on some New Zealand islands (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011). In Towns et al. (2006), R. exulans was reported to have depredated nests of the Rorotonga flycatcher (Pomarea dimidiata) in the Cook Islands.  

R. exulans can be particularly damaging to ground-nesting birds because it eats eggs and nestlings. On Norfolk Island it is thought to have contributed to the extinction of the providence petrel (Pterodroma solandri) and Pycroft’s petrel (Pterodroma pycrofti), and possibly the New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis), Norfolk pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae spadicea) and Tasman starling (Aplonis fusca). R. exulans has also been observed predating on newly-hatched chicks on Henderson Island (Pitcairn Islands) and nesting Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) on Kure Atoll (northwest Hawaiian Islands) (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

 Many species of invertebrates have been documented as threatened and consumed by R. exulans, as reviewed by St Clair (2011), including endemic snails, weta, beetles, cockroaches, scale insects, spiders and centipedes.

The rat’s habit of eating plants, seeds and seedlings and damaging bark has impacted indigenous plants on Pacific islands, including Hawaii (Shiels et al., 2013) as well as in New Zealand (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
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, 2014
Lobelia monostachya (Waianae Range lobelia)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, 1998b
Lobelia niihauensis (Niihau lobelia)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiRootingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998b
Lobelia oahuensis (Oahu lobelia)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, 1998b
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
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, 2006
Palmeria dolei (crested honeycreeper)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, 2011a
Paroreomyza flammea (Molokai creeper)EX (IUCN red list: Extinct) EX (IUCN red list: Extinct); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006
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
Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis (ulihi phyllostegia)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995a
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
Pritchardia kaalae (Waianae Range 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, 1998b; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008
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, 2009d; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011b
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, 1998a; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
Pseudonestor xanthophrys (Maui parrotbill)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); National list(s) National list(s); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011c
Psittirostra psittacea (Ou)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, 2006; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009e
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, 1995b
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, 2011d
Santalum freycinetianum var. lanaienseNo DetailsHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011e
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, 2011f
Schiedea hawaiiensis (island schiedea)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012
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, 2011g
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, 2011h
Schiedea sarmentosaUSA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011i
Stenogyne cranwelliae (Kohala Mountain stenogyne)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiHerbivory/grazing/browsingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012
Stenogyne kanehoana (Oahu stenogyne)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, 1998b
Tetramolopium remyi (Awalua Ridge tetramolopium)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiRootingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995a
Trematolobelia singularis (lavaslope false lobelia)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, 2009a
Urera kaalaeCR (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, 2011j
Xylosma crenataCR (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, 2009b
Zosterops conspicillatus conspicillatus (bridled white-eye)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesGuamPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009c
Zosterops rotensis (rota bridled white-eye)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesNorthern Mariana IslandsPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011j

Social Impact

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On Viwa Island (Fiji), R. exulans is known to enter homes, eat food and bite people as they sleep (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011). The Pacific rat has cultural significance in many of the islands in Polynesia; Maori people in New Zealand trapped R. exulans for food and these rats were sometimes eaten during ceremonial feasts (Atkinson and Towns, 2005). Because of the close cultural connection with R. exulans, this rat species is often regarded less negatively than European-introduced rodents such as R. rattus, R. norvegicus and Mus musculus.

R. exulans may also play a role in disease transmission. The leptospirosis bacterium, Leptospira ballum, has been isolated from R. exulans in Hawaii. R. exulans is also a host to the infected ticks and fleas which can transmit diseases, such as boutonneuse fever and murine typhus, to humans. Rats and mice are reservoirs of Toxoplasma spp. (Weber, 1982).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
Impact mechanisms
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Predation
  • Rooting

Detection and Inspection

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In ricefields, the presence of rats is indicated by cut tillers, scattered grains and leaves on the ground, foot prints and runways. In coconut groves, fallen nuts with holes are seen. In fruits and root crops, gnawed holes made by the rats’ sharp incisors are the common signs of damage. It is difficult to differentiate rodent species merely by the damage they cause. Faeces are not reliable indicators of species because of their sizes overlap with other rodent species (Atkinson and Towns, 2005; Shiels et al., 2014). R. exulans faeces generally range from 6.4-9.0 mm in length (Atkinson and Towns, 2005).

R. exulans often has dark-coloured upper sides of hind feet which is unlike R. rattus, R. norvegicus, and Mus musculus, which all have uniformly colouring over whole feet (Atkinson and Towns, 2005).

If more than one rodent species is suspected to be in the habitat or area, traps (snap traps and live traps) can be used to catch rats for proper identification. In the Philippines, the trapping period may be extended (more than three nights) to catch the dominant species (R. rattus mindanensis, R. argentiventer or R. norvegicus) during the first nights of trapping, before catching R. exulans. A similar pattern of R. rattus dominance during the first trap nights, and R. exulans only captured on nights after the first two nights, has been also found in Hawaii (Shiels, 2010).

For regular monitoring of R. exulans populations, use of tracking tiles (made of vinyl or other material) are common, where mimeographing ink is painted on half of the area of each tile and laid along the path of the rats (Sanchez and Benigno, 1985) or otherwise in the habitat of interest (Shiels, 2010).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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R. exulans adults are often mistaken for the young of medium-sized rats such as R. rattus and R. norvegicus, and in some cases they can be mistaken for Mus musculus (Atkinson and Towns, 2005).

R. exulans often has dark-coloured upper sides of hind feet, unlike R. rattus, R. norvegicus and Mus musculus, which all have uniform colouring over the whole foot (Atkinson and Towns, 2005). Further comparisons among the three most common invasive rats in the Pacific are detailed in Atkinson and Towns (2005) and Shiels and Pitt (2014). For comparisons with M. musculus, the feet of a juvenile R. exulans are proportionally longer and broader than those of a same-sized mouse. R. exulans also has an elongated fleshy pad on the under surface of the feet, whereas the pad on mice is round-shaped (National Animal Pest Alert, 2011).

Prevention and Control

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Introduction

Control methods have often been directed against the rat species that cause most damage. For example, in the Philippines, in mixed populations, problems with R. exulans surface once the major species (e.g. R. rattus mindanensis, R. argentiventer, R. norvegicus or R. tiomanicus) are controlled. Fortunately, the same control methods generally work for all species (for further details see the data sheets on these species).

Prevention

Research has shown that it can often be difficult to eradicate rats from islands in the early stages of invasion; therefore it is better to prevent rodents arriving on islands in the first place. R. exulans is prohibited from import into Australia and many Pacific islands. As an example of such restrictions, the following is taken from National Animal Pest Alert (2011):

'It is very important that those travelling into Australian waters maintain quarantine measures against rats and immediately report R. exulans found here [Australia]. Similarly, it is vital that people visiting Australian islands that currently support R. exulans populations do not transport them to other islands or the mainland.'

Chemical Control

Various modifications of sustained baiting and a modified form of continuous baiting in crops, using principally the first-generation multiple-dose anti-coagulants, have been recommended for use in the Philippines (PCARRD, 1985) and elsewhere. Second-generation anticoagulant poisons are used widely for invasive rat control in the Pacific (including eradication attempts involving R. exulans), but possible consequences of any ongoing control should always be considered. These consequences include primary or secondary poisoning of species that are targeted for protection or other non-target species. Secondary poisoning of other vertebrate pests such as cats, and the development of resistance to these poisons by Pacific rats, should also be considered.

Cultural Control

Rat-proofing has been done with varying success in storage, on coconut trees (trunk banding with metal or plastic sheets), and using lethal and non-lethal electric fences or metal and plastic enclosures in experimental ricefields.

Field Monitoring/Economic Threshold Levels (ETL)

Benigno (1979) placed a 3% tiller cut as the ETL for rat damage, on the basis of mechanically simulated rat damage-yield loss studies, statistical differences of yield in control and damaged plots, and farmers' perceptions of damage. Sumangil (1990) made a more conservative estimate of 1% yield loss (about 1.46% tiller cut at 14 weeks after transplanting). In Malaysia, ETL was estimated at 15% hill damage (Rennison and Buckle, 1988).

Benigno (1979) devised a sequential sampling plan, with three ETLs for different damage levels, for use in individual fields: light <3% tiller cut), medium (3-5% tiller cut) and severe (>23% tiller cut). Rennison and Buckle (1988) described a more general sequential sampling plan across fields with the upper line at 15% hill damage and the lower line at 5% hill damage.

However, there is no evidence that such damage in rice is caused specifically by R. exulans and there is a need for more information.

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
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.

Contributors

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15/05/14 Datasheet updated by:

Aaron Shiels, USDA, USA

 

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