Native broad-toothed rat makes a comeback in the ACT

Canberra 2600
A study by the ACT Government and the Australian National University found the species has recolonised burnt out areas and returned to pre-fire distribution.”A decade on, the habitat has recovered remarkably,” ACT Government senior ecologist Dr Murray Evans told 666 ABC Canberra’s Drive program. Rat populations are not usually something to celebrate but an increase in broad-toothed rat numbers in the ACT has researchers excited.The broad-toothed rat is a medium-sized native rodent which lives in alpine and subalpine swamps and grasslands.The rodent was nearly wiped out during the 2003 bushfires which destroyed its habitat in areas of Namadgi National Park. “Now that the habitat has rebounded, the broad-toothed rat has rebounded as well.”‘Resilient’ ecosystem bounces back The rise of the rat is an indicator of wider recovery at Namadgi National Park.
(Australian Museum: G A Hoye ) 666 ABC Canberra


October 21, 2016 10:14:57

The broad-toothed rat is strictly herbivorous, feeding primarily on grass at all times of the year.

Dr Murray Evans discusses the return of the native broad-toothed rat


“It’s very important to have areas that are well connected ecologically where animals can move through from one habitat to another to recolonise if those populations are lost,” he said. Photo:
Namadgi National Park ecosystems have bounced back from the 2003 bushfires. “It’s also important to have large areas like Namadgi that are conserved — if Namadgi was highly broken up, there’s a greater chance that you’ll lose species such as the broad-toothed rat.” “Species we’ve seen return [to Namadgi] are arboreal marsupials like gliders, possums — there’s good populations of those.”Some species are still struggling, like the corroboree frog, but overall I’d have to say the report card for Namadgi is looking pretty good.”I don’t know of any species that we’ve actually completely lost due to those 2003 fires.”Still under threat The broad-toothed rat is rare in the ACT and is in decline nationally. “As well as climate change, which reduces habitat in alpine areas, the species faces other risks such as predation by foxes, habitat degradation by feral pigs and the spread of exotic grasses and plant foot fungus,” Dr Evans said. “Our ecosystems are pretty resilient to things like fire,” Dr Evans said. (ABC News: Craig Allen)
He said protecting habitat and national park corridors would go a long way to securing the rat’s future.