Ratcliffe was born a British citizen in Calcutta, India. He was educated at Berkhamsted School and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and at Princeton University in the USA. After a short period working in London with the Empire Marketing Board, in 1929 he was brought to Australia by the CSIR to study flying-foxes in northern New South Wales and Queensland, afterwards returning to Britain to work in the zoology department at the University of Aberdeen. However, he returned to Australia permanently in 1935, working with the CSIR, and its successor the CSIRO, on such problems as wind erosion, termites and rabbit control. He was also a founder of the Australian Conservation Foundation, serving as its first Honorary Secretary.
As well as various scientific papers and reports, books authored by Ratcliffe include:
- 1938 – Flying Fox and Drifting Sand: the Adventures of a Biologist in Australia. Angus and Robertson: Sydney.
- 1951 – The Rabbit Problem: a Survey of Research Needs and Possibilities. CSIRO: Melbourne.
- 1952 – Australian termites: The biology, recognition, and economic importance of the common species. CSIRO: Melbourne.
- 1970 – The Commercial Hunting of Kangaroos. Australian Conservation Foundation: Melbourne.
- Bright Sparcs entry on Francis Ratcliffe accessed 27 October 2007
- Warhurst, John. (2002). Ratcliffe, Francis Noble (1904–1970). Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16: 61–62. Melbourne University Press.
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