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August 2015

The other white rat

Can you help with identifying this albino rat (?) found on a property at Wamuran?


Albino rat on wooden plank Albino rat contemplates jumping from wooden plank

You certainly have an albino rat!

The white laboratory rat (also commonly kept as a pet) is an albino mutation of the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus), a pest species in Australia. Escapee pet Rattus norvegicus will form localised feral populations of white rats. In the wild state, Brown Rats are predominantly terrestrial. They dig burrows and are also good swimmers.

Having said this, I think your rat is a different creature. It seems to be an albino Black Rat (Rattus rattus, also called Ship Rats). Black Rats are another exotic pest species. They are frequent and unwelcome guests in and around human habitation. They are much more arboreal in their habits than Brown Rats and, in south-eastern Queensland, they are much more common. I have seen wild Black and Brown Rats in a range of shades of brown or grey to charcoal black. Black Rats can be brown and Brown Rats can be black! And, it seems that both can be white!

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