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Intercepting the first rat ashore

Keeping islands free of rats may be harder with isolated invaders as these evade conventional trapping.


A single Norway rat released on to a rat-free island was not caught for more than four months, despite intensive efforts to trap it. The rat first explored the 9.5-hectare island and then swam 400 metres across open water to another rat-free island, evading capture for 18 weeks until an aggressive combination of detection and trapping methods were deployed simultaneously. The exceptional difficulty of this capture indicates that methods normally used to eradicate rats in dense populations are unlikely to be effective on small numbers, a finding that could have global implications for conservation on protected islands.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Correspondence to James C. Russell.

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