T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Rat (Kiore) Rattus exulans

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Subfamily: Murinae
Genus: Rattus
Species: R. exulans
Binomial name: Rattus exulans
Common name: Kiore, Polynesian rat, Pacific rat, Maori rat.

Rattus exulans is the third most widespread species of rat in the world. It originated in Southeast Asia, and like its relatives has become widespread, migrating to most Polynesian islands, including New Zealand, Easter Island, and Hawaii. When Māori arrived and settled in New Zealand, Rattus exulans came with them and they were an important source of protein for them, as indicated by the abundant remains of bones in sites where Māori lived.
In New Zealand, this species was once widespread but they are now restricted to Fiordland, Stewart Island and a number of offshore islands. Two islands in the Hen and Chickens group on Northland’s east coast, Mauitaha and Araara, have now been set aside as sanctuaries for Rattus exulans.

Rattus exulans has a long, slender body reaching up to 15 cm in length from the nose to the base of the tail, making it slightly smaller than other human-associated rats. It can weigh >80g.
This species has large, round ears and a pointed snout. Its back is a ruddy brown colour and the belly is whitish. Compared with the other rat species it has comparatively small feet. It is commonly distinguished by a dark upper edge of the hind foot near the ankle. The rest of its foot is pale.
R. exulans is nocturnal and are adept climbers, often nesting in trees. It is an omnivorous species, eating seeds, fruit, leaves, bark, insects, earthworms, spiders, lizards, and avian eggs and hatchlings. The introduction of the Rattus exulans into New Zealand resulted in the eradication of several species of terrestrial and small seabirds. Along with other prey, kiore have a significant impact on large flightless invertebrates living on the ground, such as our land snails or weta laying their eggs.

 

Distribution map of Kiore (Pink area).

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/