Pacific rat, Little rat, Kiore, Pacific rat
The Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans) is the third most widespread species of rat in the world behind the Brown rat and Black rat. The Polynesian rat originated in Southeast Asia, and like its relatives, has become widespread, migrating to most of Polynesia, including New Zealand, Easter Island, and Hawaii. It shares high adaptability with other rat species extending to many environments, from grasslands to forests. It is also closely associated with humans, who provide easy access to food, and has become a major pest in most areas of its distribution.
The Polynesian rat is similar in appearance to other rats, such as the black rat and the brown rat. It has large, round ears, a pointed snout, black/brown hair with a lighter belly, and comparatively small feet. It has a thin, long body, reaching up to 6 in (15 cm) in length from the nose to the base of the tail, making it slightly smaller than other human-associated rats. It is commonly distinguished by the dark upper edge of the hind foot near the ankle; the rest of its foot is pale.
Polynesian rats are widespread throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia. They inhabit many environments, from grasslands to forests, and may be found in agricultural areas.
Polynesian rats are social creatures. They are nocturnal like most rodents and are adept climbers, often nesting in trees. When foraging Polynesian rats have been observed to often take pieces of food back to a safe place to properly shell a seed or otherwise prepare certain foods. This not only protects them from predators but also from rain and other rats. These "husking stations" are often found among trees, near the roots, in fissures of the trunk, and even in the top branches.
Little information is available about the mating system in Polynesian rats. They breed in spring and summer. Females give birth to 4 litters per year with an average of 4 young per litter. The gestation period lasts 21-24 days and weaning takes around another month at 28 days. Young become reproductively mature at 8-12 months of age.
There are no major threats to Polynesian rats at present.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Polynesian rat total population size, but this animal is common and widespread throughout its known range. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.