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with us, on our boats, came our rats

For thousands of years in isolated New Zealand / Aotearoa, there were no rodents, cats, foxes, dogs, bears, marsupials, or snakes. . . our birds became long-lived, slow breeding, large, flightless, camouflaged and fearless of mammals.

Around 1280AD, everything changed.  Then started two waves of human colonization – one Polynesian and one European – that swept the birds before them.  Moa and some other birds were hunted to extinction within about 150 years of human settlement.

With us, on our boats, came our rats.  Running, swimming, climbing – they moved across the land…

Each rat found a special place here.  What birds did they eat?  Of Forest, Sea, Settlement or Extinct?

KIORE:  arrived with the Polynesian settlers about 1280AD.  Once thought largely harmless & vegetarian, in fact caused many historical extinctions.   So in the game, they eat many EXTINCT birds, plus a few others.

NORWAY RAT: arrived late 18th century.  Live mainly in cities and near rivers and the coast.  Can swim 2km in open sea – so are most likely rat species to arrive on islands.  Eat some EXTINCT, and some SEA birds.

SHIP RAT: arrived about 1830.  Prey on more forest birds than any other pest mammal, due to widespread distribution & superb climbing ability.  Eat many FOREST, EXTINCT & SETTLEMENT birds.  They can really wipe out your hand!

Still today, every year, mammalian predators kill millions of our native & introduced birds.  Our main conservation effort is to avert the damage.

Information from the book that comes with the game, complied by John Innes.

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