The indigenous Bush Rat is a placental (non marsupial) mammal of the same genus as the introduced Brown and Black Rat species. The larger Brown Rat is mainly a town dweller. The common Black Rat can also be found in ‘the bush’, and can be confused with the native Bush Rat. The Bush Rat may be similarly abundant, though less conspicuous and without a ‘ratty’ smell.
It inhabits wetter bushland and doesn’t climb trees, as the Black Rat does with its longer tail for balance. Mainly nocturnal, it sleeps and breeds in a grass-lined nest under fallen timber or in a short inconspicuous burrow. It lives for one or two years, breeding in summer with typically two litters of four young. Its diet includes insects, plant matter and fungi.
Illustration: Mark Trinham