Australian Rats

09 November, 2007

Question: Is this rat native or introduced?

Bush Rat, Rattus fuscipes

A native Bush Rat, Rattus fuscipes
Photographer: Gary Lewis. Source: Gary Lewis Photographics Pty Ltd.

Answer: This little creature is a Bush Rat, Rattus fuscipes. It’s one of Australia’s many species of native rat.

Native rats are often mistaken for introduced rats. In eastern Australia, people most often confuse the Bush Rat and the introduced Black Rat, Rattus rattus.

This is an easy mistake to make. The two species are similar in size and both have fur that is quite variable in its colour and pattern.

The subspecies of Bush Rat that lives in eastern Australia is called Rattus fuscipes assimilis. Any Latin scholar will tell you the latter name, assimilis, means ‘similar’. It was given the name assimilis because it looks so much like the introduced Black Rat.

Black Rat, Rattus rattus

An introduced Black Rat, Rattus rattus
Photographer: Ian McCann. Source: Parks Victoria.

Despite their similarities, there are a number of ways to distinguish between the Bush Rat and the Black Rat.

  • Bush Rats are shy. They rarely enter buildings and are usually found well away from human habitation. They do not construct nests in buildings. Black Rats, on the other hand, love to nest in buildings, particularly in roofs.
  • Bush Rats have rounded ears.  Black Rats have thin pointed ears.
  • Black Rats have long tails – their tails are as long, or longer, than the length of their bodies (from the snout to base of the tail). The tails of Bush Rats are shorter than their body length.

These are good identification points but it is always worth checking with a reliable expert.

Museum Victoria has a free identification service. If you would like to have something identified, you can attach a photograph to our online enquiry form or contact the Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre.

Comments (91)

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kath hill 6 September, 2009 08:12
I have rats in my garage,they are agile climbers,and they get into my chook yard,they have a shorter snout,they are grey with a brilliant white underbelly,and thier eyes and ears are definately rounder,i will attach a photo if i can get one,but i want them gone ,i am afraid they might be native,i live on nsw central coast,i am in residential area,but have lots of coastal bushland around me,id appreciate,your opinion,regards kath
Jade Maddox 11 March, 2015 22:40
I have a similar one in the bush at murdoch university undera tree in the bushes. She sounds like what u described. We think ours is a bush rat. She gets on very well with the quendas
Discovery Centre 7 September, 2009 13:48

Without a photo and only a brief description, it's quite hard for us to identify a specimen. We will pass this on to our resident experts to see if they have an idea, but it would definitely help if you provided a description of the size and colour of the rat, as well as an image, to our identification service link above.

Discovery Centre 7 September, 2009 16:09

After consulting one of our experts, it seems, from the brief description, that you may have the introduced black rat (rattus rattus) in your garage. Bush Rats tend to be restricted to the bush and we are unaware of any instance where they would frequent chook yards. Again, a photograph would be most helpful in determining the identification.

cathy 6 January, 2014 17:20
we live on the midnorthcoast and in the current hot dry weather we have seen them thru the day {in the chook pen} drinking water in the house as well but they do not linger. definitely not the black rat
Penny Garnsworthy 17 October, 2009 17:27
A friend's dog recently caught a rat in their house and my friend believed it was some sort of bush rat as it had a furry tail as opposed to a smooth tail. Would this be correct?
Discovery Centre 19 October, 2009 16:18

Hi Penny - The fact that it had a furry tail eliminates any kind of rat. There are, however, a number of other small native mammals with furry tails. We suggest that you have a look through the mammal photos on the Bioinformatics site, and see if any of those look right. The Collection Manager of Mammalogy suggests that you may wish to start with the phascogale.

Lily walter 30 March, 2010 14:44
I have rats infesting my house, they get in the cupboards and eat everything and my perents have set out mouse traps...
craig underhill 26 April, 2010 20:59
This page was really useful. We live on a small farm on the outskirts of Albury-Wodonga. We have just come back from a few days away and saw what we thought could be rat faeces on the floor of our pantry (but pale green/grey not black like mice poo!). Whilst washing the dishes tonight we saw, just outside our window, what we are pretty sure is a pair of bush rats. We were going to set rat traps tonight but wont in case we have bush rats (colour, round ears, short tails etc as per your advice above suggests that these are bush rats not black rats). The point is what do we do now? I will call the local council tomorrow to get some advice-maybe they can set some traps that wont harm the native species. Is there another organisation that will trap the native species. Perhaps they will move on now that we (and the dogs) are back? Are these native species endangered? Presumably so and we would prefer to play it safe and not set the traps. Thanks for any advice that you can give.
justine 24 June, 2010 11:03
unearthed a burrowed nest when emptying our long-neglected compost bin. we live near jervis bay nsw and while it is a suburban area we have a lot of native animals around - to the extent that we have eastern grey roos on our front verandah most evenings. Anyway, I didnt get to see the adult that left the nest but have been caring for the surviving offspring since. They have a very short snout, I think the foreleg is longer than a mouse and the bone seems to flare and broaden above the ankle.The coat is VERY thick and plush - not flat and smooth like pet mice/rats - sim to brush-tail possum? Belly is creamy yellow, rest of the coat agouti - similar to eastern grey roos or brush-tailed possum colour patterns. The agouti coat extends to the toes which are then white. The tail is not naked or scaled which is what stood out immed. Tail fur is short and smooth and is the same colour as the belly on the underside and upper sides but then there is a perfectly symmetrical thick black stripe which begins about 1 mm from the base of the tail to the very tip of the tail.The fur from the black stripe extends a little over the end of the tail making it appear slightly longer than it is. Even so, the tail is still much shorter than a pet rat or mouse in relation to overall bodylength. I think they have the usual rodent tooth pattern although the bottom teeth angle to form a V - like a rat rather than looking the same as the upper set -as you see in mice. The ears are also very diff to pet mice/rats. They're small and rounded - a bit like a teddy bear AND like the tail, they're not naked. The inside of the ear is heavily furred - same colour as the belly hair. My kids have a book on Aust mammals and it says there's 64!! species of native rodent. Our book only has pix of 10.The closest in colour to our mystery babies is the chestnut mouse but our pic doesnt show the tail. Oh and at present they're about 5cm incl the tail. They opened their eyes for the 1st time 3days ago - we've had them 12 days now. This is less relevant to id them but they seem to have better hand control than our pet mice/rats and they wash themselves like a cat rather than like a rodent. Any ideas? Am hoping the stripe on the tail will make it easy to ID but so far I havn't found anything...
Discovery Centre 27 June, 2010 10:45

Hi Justine, although you have provided an outstanding description, in order to offer an accurate identification, the Collection Manager will require an image of the animal.  Could you please take some photos and email them through to us at and quote your enquiry number, DC ENQ 70749.

Charles 8 November, 2010 17:12
I saw a rat on the way home from work, in slashed grass beside the bikeway that runs along the freeway, which is in Mt Coottha national park. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo, but I will try if I see it again. Anyway, maybe it can be ID'd from behaviour - it was browsing through the short grass, lifting up patches of mowed grass, looking for something - no idea what. What made it stand out to me is the head nose was narrower, pointer, and very 'triangular looking' compared to a rat. Also, I snuck up behind it - it must have been distracted by the traffic. It slowly approached me, then ran off when I backed away, but didn't go very far and kept coming back. It looked pregnant. The ears in the bush rat photo here: look (to me) to be identical to the black rat above.
Margaret 19 November, 2010 09:53
At Lake Macquarie foreshore we have observed a large number of rates coming down from a large tree to raid the feed of a cage of doves. As soon as a person comes near they scatter up the tree. About the same size as a black rat but brown in colour.
Dianne 5 May, 2017 08:29
I had a Black Rat problem in my roof and walls and most of them were not black in colour. In fact of the 16 I caught, only 2 of them were a uniform dark charcoal grey. The rest were brown, grey-brown or agouti, with either same coloured underparts, or more commonly white underparts, tail tip and paws, or if agouti often grey underparts. They were confirmed Black Rats Rattus rattus - living in the roof, plundering my fruit off the trees and vegetables from the garden, big ears and eyes, active outside from before sunset, all the identifying features. I did see 2 Bush Rats once outside under a sheet of metal in the paddock near the rainforest to which they bolted after freezing for a moment - different in looks and behaviour from Black Rats, never came near the house. Interestingly, the previous residents and landlord had been bombing the place with enormous amounts of rat bait that the rats were clearly resistant to. I found a study in Hawaii that discovered that warfarin resistance goes with lighter and diverse coat colours in black rats. So I reckon the rarity of black in my Black Rat population could have been due to the browns and greys surviving the warfarin and breeding up to be a genetically distinct population.
Vince 21 November, 2010 11:53
Hi, I believce that I have bush rat in my chook pen are they nuicance or just them alone. Thanks
Discovery Centre 24 November, 2010 14:58

Hi Vince,

Experience would suggest that the rat in question is not the Bush Rat but one of its more adventurous cousins the Black Rat or Brown Rat. If it is a Bush Rat then it should not be a problem.

Katja 28 December, 2010 15:55
Hi, I have millions of rats! We keep chooks and even though I made a rat-proof cage, they have found a way in (they also eat the eggs). They are the colour of a rabbit and have beautiful white fluff underneath and no hair on their tails. I don't mind having them around and don't want to poison them - but there are so many, I wondered if there is any sort of birth control I can give them?!!
Mary 26 December, 2015 12:47
I too have a colony of rats in my chook pen. I am hoping they are native rats. They are like the ones you describe. They don't seem to be doing any harm but would love to know what they are. I have owls and kookas here so do not want to poison them. We have taken taken some pics but not sure if they are god enough to identify them.
kate 27 January, 2016 21:45
I've been going mad with the number of rats in my chookpen and have a chook that kills rats. I was also concerned they may be native, but they are very 'outgoing' and not timid like the natives. I bought a Grandpas chookfeeder and the rats definitely aren't getting any chookfeed. It's expensive but you'll save on chookfeed!
Discovery Centre 29 December, 2010 15:30

Hi, the Museum can help with identifying the specimen of rats you have at your property (provided we have a clear image or the specimen) but we cannot offer advice on birth control. Perhaps contacting your local vet or zoo will assist you with this type of information.

Sue 20 January, 2011 12:30
Hi, I have a very cheeky rat that keeps feeding on my native bird seed (we are in Eltham, Vic). He climbs up the Wisteria and onto the feeder on the deck. Has lately been feeding in broad daylight! His ears are large and rounded, large round black eyes, grey/light brown coloured fur, and his underside is cream. Tail seems longer than as described by some above regarding bush rat. He is bold as brass. I took a photo last night of him sharing the feeder with an escapee parakeet that has adopted me. Anyway, is this a bush rat and if so would it be wrong to trap/kill him? He's only a pest because he eats all the feed and the lorikeets etc don't get any. I am not sure how to attach the photo?
Discovery Centre 20 January, 2011 15:59

Hi Sue,

You can attach your images via our online enquiry service and we will have the Collection Manager of Mammalogy identify your rat.

Heather 4 March, 2011 18:56
I have been reading up on the descriptions of various rats, and Sues last entry describes quite well our visitor too. I was wondering if she attached the photo for you to identify?
Discovery Centre 7 March, 2011 13:30
Hi Heather - The previous enquiry to which you refer was indeed identified from a provided photo as the introduced Black Rat, or Rattus rattus. Hope this helps!
Heather 8 March, 2011 20:06
Hi again. Thanks for the info. Can you tell me why it differs so much in colour from all the rattus rattus photos I have seen? Such a creamy underbelly!
Kevin 9 March, 2011 08:47
I have a question about a (confirmed) Rattus rattus (and we know it is a Rattus rattus from the excellent descriptions provided in this forum!) We live in MT Eliza and have been here for 5 years, in that time never seen a rat. Last week we saw our first rat walking across our deck in day light - we chased him back into the garden. Last night a rat came into the lounge room while we were watching the TV - you can imagine the commotion this caused. After successfully chasing/herding the rat back outside I am left to ponder - why are the rats suddenly appearing? Why are they coming indoors (they've never done so previously). What has caused this change in behavior? Is it weather related (the wet summer?) I'm curious to know what has caused the delta in behavior...
Discovery Centre 8 April, 2011 12:36

Hi Heather -  Despite the common name, the Black Rat Rattus rattus is rarely black - individuals can vary from a tan or fawn colour to darker browns and greys, sometimes with pale or white ventral regions, however this pale pelt is not always evident and as such is not always useful for definitive identification.

Although the related Bush Rat Rattus fuscipes and Swamp Rat Rattus lutreolus are also variable in colour, a good rule of thumb is if the animal has a tail length greather than the remaining body size, it is likelty to be R. rattus.

Discovery Centre 8 April, 2011 12:51
Hi Kevin - we think you are right when you suggest the recent wet summer might account for the abundance of Rattus rattus at the moment; certainly we are getting more requests to identify these than any other mammal. The wet summer has meant that animals and their food sources have increased and/or are more visible - perhaps the conditions over summer have triggered the abundance of food resouirces for this omnivorous species.
Tim 7 June, 2011 11:33
Hi, My neighbour in suburban Ivanhoe (Melbourne) tells me he has a colony of bush rats in his back yard. I am concerned about the hygeine aspect. Since it is generally agreed that rats and mice can carry and spread disease, is this also the case with bush rats. The local council issues directives about how to get rid of vermin. I wonder if bush rats are exempt? We are a long way from any bush as such and I know that there are also rats and mice of the regular variety hanging around. I'm all for conservation of threatened species, but not if it means there is a risk of community hygeine being affected.
Discovery Centre 7 June, 2011 15:24

Hi Tim - there are a couple of issues here; firstly Bush Rats are not vermin; they are a native species and as such do not have the health and hygeine concerns associated with introduced rodents such as the Black Rat, Brown Rat and House Mouse.

Having said that, without seeing the specimens it is difficult to be certain what species of Rat your neighbour is reffering to, but it is unlikely to be a Bush Rat Rattus fuscipes, as this species is not known from the Melbourne Metropolitan area. In order for us to assist, could you or your neighbour photograph one of the animals in question and send it to us via the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page? This way we can resolve what animal; we are dealing with.

Robert Halsall 14 June, 2011 12:16
Is the Bush rat a protected species? If not what is the best way to eradicate tham?
Discovery Centre 17 June, 2011 11:40
Hello Robert - Rattus fuscipes is a native species endemic to Australia, and as such is protected. We aren't aware of the need for any eradication measures for this shy species, as they are rarely associated with human habitation.
David Allen 17 June, 2011 15:15
We live in a new house in rural central victoria. We have what I thought was black rats but are a close look at one I'm not sure. This light brown rat has a furry covered tail. Not scaley at all. My cat had one bailed up but it escaped. So, it looks in most respects to be a black rat, is rat sized, lives in our roof apparently, climbs like a ninja, is seen in daylight often, but with the furry tail. So what is it?
janaya 26 January, 2013 23:36
Hi David, just wondering if you ever got a response to your comment about ninja type rats with a fury tail. The brush tailed phascogale, or tuan has a long black fury tail. At its tip it is even more bushier. Their body is usually a greyish colour, thin and long like a rat with similar sharp pointed nose and roundish ears. Colours can differ. These are very common in areas around warrandyte, king lake and surrounding bush type properties. It is a carnivourous marsupial and considered quite rare as a species. They will take advantage of living in your roof, and will usually hunt several times at night being a nocturnal animal. I would think myself pretty privaliged to have a family of them living in the roof. Good luck hope this is what it is and not just a boring old rat!
Discovery Centre 8 July, 2011 13:09

Hi Mel - this is a complex one, as there are a few seperate creatures involved. First of all, the animal in the image is not a rat or a rodent of any kind - this is an Antechinus; although these are rodent shaped and sized, they are entirely different animals - Antechinus are marsupials; they are much more closely related to Tasmanian Devils and Quolls than they are to rats and mice. The distinctive conical head, pointed snout and row of sharp molars make it easy to tell this is not a rat or mouse.

Regarding the burrow complex, this sounds more like the work of rats if it is extensive, as Antechinus would not build an extensive network (but do make small burrows in undergrowth). Both Bush Rats Rattus fuscipes (which are native rodents) and Black Rats Rattus rattus build networks of burrows, and both are common in the Dandenongs. If you wanted to be certain who the burrowers are, we would need to see a picture of one of the culprits, which can be sent to us by using the 'Contact Us' option at the bottom of the page.


Debbie Riley 2 August, 2011 10:18
I have kept pet rats (Lab type) and are very taken with their personality and their ability to be wonderful companion animals. After putting out humane rat traps we caught three female rats that were making their home in the wall of our house and being very noisy at 4am. They are quite attractive little creatures and don't know what to do with them as i think they are black rats. As pet rats are quite short-lived (last one was only 18months when we had to get vet to put him to sleep with mycoplasmosis)Is there anyone cross breeding wild rats with lab rats to produce a pet rat with a longer life span?
Jane 17 August, 2011 18:15
On my way home i came across a small animal (which initially looked like an introduced rat) sitting in the middle of the road. I stopped to try and get it off the road so it wouldnt get run over. I think it was a bush rat - it didnt move initiatlly and i thought it was injured. As i got closer i realised it was definitely not an introduced rat. Fortunately it ran off the road into the bush. Ive never seen one in the wild and always wanted to - it was fantastic to see.
Merrilee 30 December, 2011 10:14
We live in Albury NSW and our dog has just presented us with what we believe may be a bush rat.. it was dead but was still warm. The tail is about the same length as the body, it has small rounded ears and although 'wet' seems to be brown or varied brown in colour - mottled. I am attempting to send you photos through the contact us option....
Peter 19 January, 2012 07:53
we are in the Bellarine in Geelong and i am wondering whether i maybe have both types of rats. We have a chook shed and have a colony of rats there which eat the food and are quite a nuisance and only seem active at night - they seem pretty typical of R rattus. In our large garden we have now a lot of native grasses and other plants and there appears to be a pair of rats that have burrows and pathways in the grasses and also seem to come out more during the day. However, it is hard to get a good look at them. we are also close to a native reserve. We the massive amount of growth this year and s0 also have a lot mice n other pests. I want to kill the R rattus but obv not the native. Is it possible to have both types together (we are on an acre and so there is about 50m between the two sites)
Discovery Centre 24 January, 2012 17:35

Hi Peter - although an image would be useful so we could be more definitive, it certainly is possible going by your description that you have a combination of Native and Introduced Rat species living in relatively close proximity. The introduced Rattus rattus is far more likely to be the 'pest' one in the chook house, but both Bush and Black Rats can build a network of burrows. If you have the chance, try to gauge the tail length relative to its body when you next see one - if the tail is longer than the rest of the body, the chances of it being a Black Rat are very high.

Hoppe this helps

Julie 9 March, 2012 13:37
We have a chooks and had a lot of trouble with birds and mice coming to eat chook grain. We have solved the problem by using a self feeder we purchased from The Diggers Club. It has stopped the problem immediately.
Amie 31 May, 2012 01:03

I know this is in Queensland, but I was hoping you could help identify this animal. It sort of looks like a rat but it doesn't walk- it sort of hops. It really doesn't worry about humans however if you get too close, it gets pretty defensive and jumps at you. It jumped about 2ft in the air. I live in Brisbane, next to a main road and across the other side is a state forest. Here is a link to a photo taken with the i-phone so sorry about the quality!

Discovery Centre 23 June, 2012 16:48

Hi Amie - Thanks for the identification request; I have taken the liberty of removing the link you included in your comment, as the link was causing formatting problems with our website.

I did closely examine the animal in the image you sent us, and I can confirm that the animal is indeed liklely to be a species of Rattus, however because your image doesn't show the full length of the tail of the animal, it isn't possible to identify the species. The behaviour and setting you describe unfortunately don't help to differentiate the animal from an introduced Black Rat Rattus rattus and native rats.

If you have any additional images, feel free to send them to us via the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page and we will do our best to identify the animal as best we can.

judy beresford 3 October, 2012 12:26
some small creature is making long irrigation-like channels in our heavily mulched garden where many bulbs flourish - but not any more - the bulbs are being eaten and all we are left with is dead flowers and leaves. now 'it' has started on the tiny species gladolii. any suggestions please.
Penelope 13 October, 2012 23:38
I am so pleased to find this site where people are so keen to find out what the species is before implementing any kind of irradication methods. We live in one of the most beautiful and unique countries in the world. We owe it to this fine earth to protect our little creatures from extinction, because truly looking out for the environment, animals and ecosystems can only mean success for ourselves!!! thanks for caring x
Jan 8 November, 2012 14:39
My small dog has caught a black rat and a native rat in our garden. I know we also have rats in our roof. If I put traps or poison in our roof only will this spare the cute native rats. I lost my whole veggie garden last year to rats of both types I think. Tks for interesting posts
Discovery Centre 9 November, 2012 16:02

Hi Jan, our expert has said that the native rats in victoria tend to avoid homes and require some native bushland, so it is unlikely that baiting inside the house will kill native rats.

Melissa 24 November, 2012 21:39
Hi, whilst moving sheets of metal on my property in victoria, i noticed a group of blue rats living underneath it - do we have native rats which are blue in color or is it just a color mutation you can get in introduced rats? The ears were rounded, the tail didn't seem to be that long either.
Andrew Shacklock 28 April, 2015 12:50
Hi Melissa. I once found 5 chubby blue colored mice with tails about an inch long in a wheat silo in north east victoria. Always wondered what species they were.
Natalie 15 December, 2012 08:29
Hello, I live on a large block of land on the side of a hill running down to a creek in Mt Eliza and am lucky enough to have what I think is a colony of Swamp Rats sharing my land with me. They have dug lots of tunnels under the plants and the ground is quite spongy. The tunnels would range for a good 5 metres. I have never seen one until today when it was digging a hole well away from the normal area - right next to the house and under a small fibreglass fishpond. My question is will they stay there for a long time or will they move to another section of the block and will the tunnels system get bigger?
Discovery Centre 27 December, 2012 15:03

Hi Natalie - we checked with our Mammalogy Curator on this, and he has said the following in response to your query:

They will stay as long as conditions are suitable for burrows and there is sufficient food to sustain them. Swamp rats are not migratory and will remain in place as long as conditions are suitable. My suspicion is that swamp rats are far more abundant this year given the favourable conditions of the last two years. With the next inevitable drought their numbers will decline and their tunnel systems will fade with them.

Hope this helps

Jim 14 February, 2013 18:59
From the above comments I believe this animal trapped in SW Western Australia to be a Black Rat, but would like that confirmed as we have a tribe of them living in our roof.
Discovery Centre 15 February, 2013 16:08
Hello Jim - the best way would be if you could get a photograph of one of the culprits and send it to us for confirmation, you can send us an image via our 'Ask the Experts
Rick 21 February, 2013 11:05
I just came home around 10:00 and saw a ratlike animal on its haunches feeding on something. By the time I pulled out my binoculars there was another one that came out from under the timber deck around the in ground pool. I figured this might have been native rats but before they both popped under the deck I noticed they both had a single stipe running down each side. Sorry I'm not too good with colours they could be medium greyish brown with stripe a lighter shade. After they had gone I went out to where the one was feeding near an opening under the deck. I found some small bird feathers bunched up together, an old snail shell that had been chewed into and one dropping hard dark brown 12-15mm long and kind of oblong shaped. The tail seemed hairless and longer than the body. I'm thinking it was a rat but the distinct stripe down the side doesn't match anything I have found on the net. Note I have had the corn in my garden husked and eaten off the stalk recently and it was not uncommon last year to find mandarines on the ground opened up and all the insides eaten. I figured the corn and mandarines were possums but maybe its these guys
Discovery Centre 23 February, 2013 12:24
Hi Rick, we would be happy to try and identify the mammal but we would heed some images and also a locality as to where you are. If you see him or her again and have your camera please feel free to send the images to
Graham 3 March, 2013 17:54
I have found a nest on a shelf in my finery amongst plants, it has been made of entirely of small palm leaves from the seedlings i have in pots . I have seen a glimpse of what I think is a rat...would this be a native? The nest dimensions are about ten centimetres by twenty..I am in gladstone qld Many thanks
Discovery Centre 4 March, 2013 14:49
Hi Graham - it's impossible to say without a clear photo, I'm afraid - if you manage to get a clear image of the beast in question, you can up load it to our Ask the Experts page and we can see if an identification is possible
Susan 1 July, 2013 21:27
I live in Eltham, Victoria, and have discovered a small burrow in my vegie patch. It is shallow and goes under the retainer wall. I covered the hole with a brick but the creature soon dug another tunnel. Strangely, none of my vegies have been eaten. I cannot provide a photo of the creature as I have never seen it. What might it be, and what should I do? (I am worried it will destroy my crops.)
lisa lintner 27 March, 2014 07:36
Susan, we have the same problem in our community garden enclosure - lots of holes and tunnels. We think the rat is eating the roots possibly, and cannot identify the animal as only one person has seen it. We need to know what to do to encourage it to leave!
Mandy 19 July, 2013 11:35
Hi,I live at Loganholme just south of Brisbane , I live on an acre block all cleared land have many rats and mice living in my house and garages all easy to idendify ,but we had caught an unusal one in the shade house which my husband set free as it didn't look like the common rat and I've got the same looking one living behind the cupboards in spare bedroom .very similar in every way to a rat only It is very pretty looking light grey in colour very long pointy nose the eyes and colour is making me think it is something else as the eyes are heaps larger and bulge out more than the usual rat, quite pretty eyes it seems slightly bigger and has a very long smooth tail. Very good at climbing as when we spotted it it was running along the high beam in the shade house and the one in the house when I turned the light on it was looking at me from on top of the verticle blind rail,he doesn't care I'm in the room with him at night he still makes all the dragging and running around noises in the room even under the bed. Droppings look the same as a rat long and black. Not sure what its eating as my dry dogfood is always invaded but could be the other rats. Found my missing chillis in the corner of the shade house in a dirt filled pot not eaten. Can wild rats be such a light grey with big bulging eyes ?
Discovery Centre 19 July, 2013 16:45
Hi Mandy - it's not really possible to say what it was you saw, but the pointy nose and eyes you describe may indicate the animal isn't a rodent, it could also be an Antechinus of some sort, which are marsupials related to quolls and the Tasmanian Devil. If you are able to send us a clear image via our Ask the Experts page, we will see if we can identify the animal for you
sue johnson 3 August, 2013 10:56
What a great site & fantastic that people are so keen to care for our native animals. I am fairly certain we have native rats in my chook house. We have spotted probably 20 as night is approaching. They have many burrows underground. I have tried to catch & release but its ongoing. Can you advise if there are any concerns re lice infestation or health threats for our chickens. I collect eggs daily & never leave any overnight so I haven't had any worries regarding eaten eggs. thanks for your advice. :)
Discovery Centre 6 August, 2013 14:58
Hello Sue - while it isn't possible ot be sure without seeing a clear image, we think it sounds more likely that you have Black Rats Rattus rattus rather than a native species, the behaviour you describe sounds more consistent with commensal rats; typically native rats would only supplement their diet with grain such as birdseed rather than capitalise on it exclusively. If you wanted to be certain, feel free to send us a clear image via the Ask and Expert page.
Ian 15 December, 2013 10:51
Got a squad of animals in my roof and getting annoyed as they are coming into the house. They are Grey Backed with white bellies. Trapped one today but I can here them during the night. Not as loud as possums but active, is it the Norwegian Rat? If so how did they get all the way out here? Capertee Valley NSW?
Discovery Centre 15 December, 2013 14:14
Hi Ian, the experts will need to see a photo of the creature in order to identify it.  Check out the identification guidelines and send in your image to with the details of when and where you found and we will get back to you with an identification.
Trish 25 December, 2013 14:55
What a wonderful site, very informative. I am certain I saw a native rat at work yesterday. I work in Aireys Inlet in Victoria, taking out horse trail rides through the bush. We get all sorts of wonderful native animals, birds and reptiles. We have the introduced black rat around the horse yards and feed shed occasionally but the rat that ran across the track I was riding along was very different. I instantly noticed the shorter, thinner tail, which would have been barely as long as the body. It had a short, compact body and much shorter face than a black rat. I'm not sure if it was a Bush Rat or another native rat but I'm positive it was native. We were well away from any dwellings and the bush is reasonably thick along that area of the track. It was quite a treat actually but unfortunately it was so quick that I was unable to point it out for my customers on the ride to see. Just thought I would share my experience.
Discovery Centre 31 December, 2013 14:13
Hello Trish - obviously we can't verify your identification without seeing an image, but the characteristics you describe are consistent with the two species of native rats known from your general area, being the Swamp Rat and the Bush Rat. We're glad you find our resources helpful, and please feel free to send us any images  you may be able to snap via our Ask the Experts page and we'll do our best to offer an identification.
David 12 March, 2014 23:35
Will Rattus fuscipes eat Rat Sak
Belinda 26 March, 2014 12:57
I'm just wondering if you guys can help me identify a rat I found sick outside my hay shed I have pictures.
Discovery Centre 28 March, 2014 11:36
Hi Belinda, please feel free to get some good quality images of the rat and email them to us at and we'll try and assist you. 
Robert Wall 13 July, 2014 18:04
I'm sure I have a dead one that my cat brought home today. Round ears and short tail, sad about that , our cats are contained at night, there is bush nearby. Gold Coast suburbia.
Anne 6 September, 2014 23:49
Over the last few weeks we have been losing our chickens. Something has been killing them - but not eating them. We tried setting a trap - one that would not kill but rather catch. It was set off with nothing trapped. It had been caught and managed to pull the wire back to allow it to escape. Then tonight we heard the chickens crying out. We went down and found that one had a brush tale phascogale buried up its hind quarters. I pulled at the tail until I eventually dislodged it. The poor chicken. We are unsure how much damage was done. The tuan attempted to bite me so I could not maintain my grip and a dropped it. Are tuans only carnivorous. We also have antichinus. Last year a number of our fruit trees were continually getting stripped of leaves as they grew. Do you think this would have only been the antichinus or could the tuan have contributed to this too?
Discovery Centre 9 September, 2014 13:43
Hello Anne - that does sound unfortunate, on first reading I thought it unlikely that a Tuan/Phascogale would've been capable of what you describe; they are generally small nocturnal tree-dwellers that feed on invertebrates. However, having done some research it appears Tuans/Phascogales may have some form in harming captive poultry, a paragraph in "The Mammals of Australia" makes mention of this. You may want to consider reviewing the composition of the coop with a finer mesh that could offer more protection for your birds. In answer to your second question, Antechinuses are insectivores that occasionally eat small vertebrate animals, but would'nt eat leaves in the manner you describe - this sounds more like the act of a rat or a possum of some kind.
Martin 5 November, 2014 21:24
Hi i live close to St Kilda Breakwater and when i went out in the bush i found a big rat of some sort, i will send a picture as soon as possible, i belive it is a rakali but i,am not sure.
sharon 14 April, 2015 10:34
we have a group of them living under the compost bins near the chooks. They only appear at early morning, and never worry the chickens. They are not too destructive and are small, with short tails and rounded ears. I would love to share photos of them but this page doesn't seam to let me!!
Discovery Centre 14 April, 2015 13:44
Hi Sharon, small ears and short tail sounds more like a native than an introduced rat, but if you lodge a query at the Discovery Centre's Ask the Experts page, you can also upload a picture there as well - we'd be happy to have a look and advise you of our thoughts.
Peter 29 April, 2015 22:45
This one is only a youngster, the adults are a similar colour. We live on the edge of the bush, these things had their nest in the woodpile near the chook cage but they will scamper up and into the bushes. I have only seen them at night. This little one died but I have seen more recently - friend or foe?
Discovery Centre 30 April, 2015 15:09

Hi Peter,

Your image did not come through the online comment, if you would like us to identify the animal please submit your request and image through our Ask the Experts form.

mary 11 October, 2015 08:56
I have a brown rat with cream belly living in or near my chook house. This morning it was stuck half way out of its burrow so I had a good look. Round ears, snout long rather than round. It had little pale feet. I had to dig the ground away, at first the rat squeaked but then just waited til it could move. Did not try to bite me, she just scurried off down another burrow. Have seen this rat numerous times, it always just moves away and hides. I'm pretty sure it's a native rat, what do you think?. Don't want to hurt it if so.
Discovery Centre 11 October, 2015 11:21
Hi Mary - hard to tell from a description, but if you can get a photograph of your chook-house friend, then feel free to send it through to our Ask the Experts service, and we'll do our best to ID it for you.
Sharon 22 December, 2015 19:35
Hi. I found what looked like a little black mouse this morning. It was trying to burrow into the freshly cut lawn. It's fur was so glossy and black it almost shone in the sun. It's tail was VERY long and from all the pics of rats and mice I looked at, the head seemed too small in proportion to the body to be a black rat, and it wasn't pointy at all, but more rounded. The tail started the same colour as the body near the rump, but got lighter towards the tip. It was wriggling a bit and it got away before I had a good look at it or could take a picture. It was under a bush but then came out right near me and didn't seem bothered to be close at all, then it tok off again. It was a thumb length, or about 8cm long. Any "guesses" as to what it might have been?
Leaf 7 March, 2016 03:01
I suspect there is a rat stealing tomatoes and radishes from my garden. Is there a particular type of rat that is more likely to do this? I should note that I live in an area with lots of bushland, in Western Australia. I haven't seen the rat actually harvesting from my plants, but I left a piece of fruit out the other day to see what would happen, and I saw a rat running away with it, so I think it may also be the same one that is partaking from my plants. Any advice would be appreciated!
Discovery Centre 7 March, 2016 12:36
Hi Leaf - obviously it's impossible for us to be sure without seeing a photograph, but the behaviour you describe is more consistent with what you'd expect from a Black Rat Rattus rattus than a Bush Rat, which would prefer to feed on native shoots and the like. If you have a clear photograph, you can upload it to us via the Ask The Experts page and we'd be happy to try annd identify the species for you.
Adam Cole 29 March, 2016 15:12
My wife observed a rat in our backyard chasing one of our chooks. Had anyone ever seen eat behaviour like this?
Eric Mainard 29 March, 2016 21:47
Black rats will kill very small chickens but I have never known them to attack older fowls. The Brush-tailed Phascogale is the native animal most similar in size which, despite it's small size will attack quite large fowls.
Linda Farqhar 21 June, 2016 22:56
We live in Dromana Victoria and have been able to capture on video a what at first we thought was a rat. Aside from its nocturnal activities of running around in the house it has not tried to get into any food and has not even tried to eat rat bait like another rat who visited our house did. I looked up about native rats and this one appears to possibly be one of those. It has a rounder shaped body, a cute face with big eyes and quite round ears. It's tail is very skinny and not like a rats tail. I left some Mandarine slices for it as its hiding underrate kitchen cupboards and it came out to eat them. I've taken the rat poison away as I don't want to kill a native bush rat but how do you get them out of the house? There appears to only be one.
Ross Wittig 1 August, 2016 10:54
I live in SE QLD near the coast, have recently spotted a family of 4 rat like critters in my garden, they are shy and have the rounded ears of what I thought would be a Bush Rat but other evidence, like scrambling up the Golden Cane and along fences, seems to go against that. Hopefully the pic will attach.[user]=142981369&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=0 Ross
Discovery Centre 1 August, 2016 14:01
Hello Ross - going by that image, I'm sorry to report that I think it's the common introduced pest species Rattus rattus, the Black Rat (a misnomer, as they are hardly ever black). The relative tail/total body length ratio, along with protruding large ears, paler undersides and bulbous black eyes are diagnostic, and the climbing and fence-running habits are also consistent. with this species.
Sonja Maria 7 October, 2016 20:35
Hi, is this a brown/black rat? Whatever it is, it is super cute :) I accidentally left the door open for the cook pen and this little fellow came in.
Antonietta Gentile 4 June, 2017 16:33
I found this creature in our garden - hoping it is just the introduced house rat - also any ideas of what might of killed it? It's body is fully intact , just missing it's head. Thanks
Discovery Centre 5 June, 2017 12:45
Hi Antionetta - it's a challenge to identify with certainty with a head, but from what remains can be seen, it looks consistent with a Black Rat Rattus rattus. It's difficult to say what predator removed the head, but cats are known to sever the heads of rodents.
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