Sunday, June 15, 2008

The White Tailed Rat (Giant Tree Rat)

These huge (up to 700g) rats are common on the Daintree Coast. The most commonly seen evidence of them is Coconuts with round holes chewed in them. The rats have strong teeth and are able to open a Coconut in about one hour. Once they can get their upper and lower incisors inside, they can strip all the flesh out.
Most visitors imagine tha Coconuts are native and the rats introduced, but the reverse is true. Coconuts are first recorded on the Frankland Islands in about 1838, but the White Tailed Rats are part of a group of rats called 'old endemics' that have probably been in Australia for at least a couple of million years. It is believed their ancestors 'rafted' here on masses of vegetation ripped out in tropical storms in Asia. Although cute, these rats are capable of doing real damage in you home; teeth that can open coconuts can open almost anything! Thsi one was photgraphed on a Mason's nighwalk on 13 June 2008.