Rat or wētā droppings?

2 May 2018

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New Zealand’s native wētā droppings can be similar in size and texture to rat droppings but there can be distinguishing features.

As illustrated in this photo recently supplied by Peter Sweetapple, wildlife researcher at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, wētā droppings have blunt ends and often have longitudinal ridging. The ridging can be darker in colour on fresh droppings, resulting in a striped appearance, which fades with time.

Of the three rat species introduced to New Zealand, kiore and ship rat droppings can be of a similar size to those of wētā but can be distinguished more readily because their droppings have pointed ends in contrast to the blunt-ended wētā droppings.

Norway rats, however, produce droppings with blunt ends very similar in shape and size to those of large wētā, so the ridging in wētā droppings is the main way of distinguishing them.

When there is potential for confusion between animal sign of different species it is good practice to look for other clues to help confirm the identification. Find out more about identifying the three rat species in our pest Culprits section.