Ship Rat

Ship Rat

Rattus rattus


Body length 190 mm; tail length 230 mm; weight 280 g. Sleek-looking; may be any colour from black to white, but generally steel-grey with a white belly; tail much longer than head and body. When pulled forward, ear extends past middle of the eye.

Habitat and Range:

Occurs anywhere around human habitation — in ceilings, verandahs, dumps, gardens, shops, warehouses, fowl houses and degraded habitats. Most common rat. In coastal areas around most of Australia. Immigrant from South-east Asia but now occurs throughout the Americas, NZ, France, PNG, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands and the West Indies.


Nocturnal. Accomplished climber, rarely seen on ground. Surprisingly gentle disposition. Similar to Sewer Rat.


Thrives on all forms.


High-pitched calls, sitt-sitt, or more raucous ehh-ehh-ehh. Night-time grinding on woodwork, loud pitter-patter over ceilings. Hollowed-out macadamia nuts, emptied pawpaws, scalped seedlings, empty snail shells assembled in caches. Droppings are blunt pellets (10 mm long by 3 mm wide).

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