Denning behaviour of ship rats (Rattus rattus) on Taukihepa, a seabird breeding island
Rutherford, Malcolm; Harper, Grant; Moller, Henrik
Den sites of 14 ship rats (Rattus rattus) were located daily during the rat breeding season on Taukihepa (Big South Cape), a seabird island southwest of Rakiura (Stewart Island). In contrast to other New Zealand studies, no arboreal dens were found. Den sites on Taukihepa were in ferns, under logs, in woodpiles, or underground in sooty shearwater (Puffinusgriseus) breeding burrows. The number of times known den sites used was positively related to the amount of leaf litter and woodpiles near the den sites. Overall, 24% of radio‐tagged rats were sharing den sites on any given day. While there was considerable individual variation in the number of times den sites were used, female rats tended to reuse den sites more than males. Many rats were found in dens alone, but frequently males and females shared. Occasionally two females and one male denned together, as did two females, whereas males never denned with another male.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Rights Statement: © The Royal Society of New Zealand 2009
Keywords: Rattus rattus; den sites; habitat use; social behaviour; sooty shearwater; Stewart Island
Research Type: Journal Article