As part of our inquiry into the New Zealand Bush we compared two of our most destructive pests - the Possum and the rat.
The New Zealand native bush is home to a large variety of flora and fauna. However not all of these species are native or even helpful to the bush ecosystem. Certain animals have done immense damage to the native New Zealand bush. Two such animals are the possum and the rat.
Introduced Species - X - Men
Both the rat and possum were introduced to New Zealand from other countries. The possum was brought from Australia in the mid 1800s to be used for fur. Whereas the rat was not brought here intentionally, they were stowaways on ships that carried Polynesian settlers in the 1250’s - 1300’s. Ship rats or Norway rats came to New Zealand with the first European settlers. The introduction of rats is thought to have contributed to the extinction of native birds.
Pests - Guardians of the Galaxy
The possum and the rat are both pests. They both wreak havoc on the New Zealand bush. Possums eat seedlings and leaves preventing the regrowth of native trees, they also devour buds, fruit, flowers, fungi, insects and eggs. The rat similarly eats eggs but also birds and is responsible for killing native species of birds and bats. Although both destructive pests possums are considered more dangerous due to their large numbers, there is thought to be around 30 million possums in New Zealand.
Numbers being controlled - Avengers
We all know that possums and rats are some of the biggest pests in the native bush. They destroy many important resources like native trees, birds and eggs. People are trying to control the number of possums by shooting and setting traps to kill them. To control rat numbers people such as the Department of Conservation (D.O.C) have enlisted the help of inventors to create self setting traps.
Other uses - Justice League
Although possums and rats are considered pests there are other uses for these animals. Possum fur can be used to make hats, gloves and scarfs. Possum meat can also be used for cooking purposes such as Possum Pie. Rats can be useful in numerous ways, one of these uses is for scientific experiments such as testing different types of medicine. Rats can also be household pets, as rats can be trained to do a variety of tricks.
The native New Zealand bush is a taonga and needs our help in preserving it. We believe it is essential that pest numbers are controlled to preserve our native bush. The possum and rat need to be targeted with new and improved traps in order to reduce further damage to our native bush.