General Description

Body fur dark brown, usually lighter underneath. Feet, ears, and tail dark brown. The ears are short and do not reach the eyes when folded forward. Tail shorter than head and body. Body up to 20 cm, tail up to 14 cm. They can be distinguished from the non-native Black Rat by their relatively short ears and tail. The tail is about equal to the head and body length whereas the tail of black rat is much longer than the head and body. They have dark brown feet which distinguish them from native Bush Rats.


Swamp Rats make tunnels through the vegetation. They eat mostly stems of grasses and sedges. They are restricted to native vegetation and avoid areas of human habitation. Frequent fires will prevent them from recolonising an area. Swamp rats are close relatives of the Bush Rat. Both are native to Australia where they have been present for about 1 million years. They are both in the same genus, Rattus, as are the invasive rats, the Black Rat, Rattus rattus.


Eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania.


Coastal heath, sedgelands, dune scrub and grassland areas.

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