Australian swamp rat

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Australian swamp rat
Rattus lutreolus - Gould.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Subfamily: Murinae
Genus: Rattus
Species: R. lutreolus
Binomial name
Rattus lutreolus
(Gray, 1841)


The Australian swamp rat -- also known as the Eastern swamp rat[2] (Rattus lutreolus) -- is a species of rat that grows to have a body length of approximately 160 millimetres (6 in) with a tail length of approximately 110 mm (4.3 in) and a mass of about 120 grams (4 oz). It has a stocky build with black-brown fur and black feet.[3] Its ventral surface is cream to brown color and it has small ears nearly concealed by hair. The tail is dark grey, scaly and sparsely haired.[4]


Range and habitat[edit]

The Swamp Rat is found near the coast of south and eastern Australia. It occurs in lowland country from Fraser Island down the coast of New South Wales and Victoria to the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia. A subspecies velutinus can be found in Tasmania, and another subspecies lacus lives in isolated patches of high altitude rainforest near Atherton, Queensland.

The preferred habitat of the swamp rat is thick vegetation along watercourses and in swamps. Dense vegetation of islands above the high water mark is also suitable.[3] They can also live in area of coastal heath, dune scrub, grasslands and sedgelands. The rats will form tunnels through the vegetation through which they can move. The species tend to choose the habitat based on density of vegetation in the area.[5] Area prone to fire tend not to be recolonised.[6] The swamp rat can be seen at places like the Healesville Sanctuary, where they live in the grounds.


The diet is vegetarian;[6] consisting of reeds, seeds and swamp grass stems.[3] During the summer months, the species will increase its intake of insects as well as fungi; however, during spring months the rats switch to eating an increased amount of seeds due to their abundance and possible nutritional value in breeding season.[7]



Behavior is partly nocturnal and diurnal so it is active during the day and at night. It is thought that the species does not collect the sufficient amount of food throughout the night and must also collect vegetation during the day.[8]

Reproduction and Predation[edit]

The rats reached sexual maturity around August and started to breed come October.[8] The species has a litter size ranging from one to eleven on average with a gestation period lasting around 23 to 25 days.[7] Olfactory senses are used to smell certain species odors, allowing them to detect predators.[9]


  1. ^ Burnett, S.; Menkhorst, P.; Ellis, M. & Denny, M. (2016). "Rattus lutreolus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T19343A115147713. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T19343A22440810.en. Retrieved 9 November 2017. 
  2. ^ "Australian Swamp Rat". State of Victoria (Department of Education). 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Swamp Rat - Rattus lutreolus". Queensland Museum. 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Cindy Felcher (1999). "Rattus lutreolus - Australian swamp rat". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Fox, Barry J., and Vaughan Monamy. "A Review of Habitat Selection by the Swamp Rat, Rattus Lutreolus (Rodentia: Muridae)." Austral Ecology 32.8 (2007): 837-49. Web.
  6. ^ a b "Rattus lutreolus (J.E. Gray, 1841) - Swamp Rat". Atlas of living Australia. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Taylor, J. Mary, and John H. Calaby. "Rattus Lutreolus." Mammalian Species 299 (1988): 1. Web.
  8. ^ a b Kearney, Nicole, Kathrine Handasyde, Simon Ward, and Michael Kearney. "Fine-scale Microhabitat Selection for Dense Vegetation in a Heathland Rodent, Rattus Lutreolus: Insights from Intraspecific and Temporal Patterns." Austral Ecology 32.3 (2007): 315-25. Web.
  9. ^ Mcevoy, Joanne, David L. Sinn, and Erik Wapstra. "Know Thy Enemy: Behavioural Response of a Native Mammal (Rattus Lutreolus Velutinus) to Predators of Different Coexistence Histories." Austral Ecology 33.7 (2008): 922-31. Web.