Rattus nativitatis (Thomas, 1889:533)

Bulldog rat, Christmas Island burrowing rat



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Mus nativitatis Thomas, 1889:533


Conservation Status


Last record: 1897/1898 (Andrews, 1900); 1903 (Fisher & Blomberg, 2012; Lee et al., 2017)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


It was long suspected that Rattus nativitatis became extinct because of a pathogenic trypanosome disease carried by fleas residing on Common Black Rat (R. rattus) which were introduced to the island. However, confirmation of this had been lacking until (Wyatt et. al. 2008). Last reported in 1897/1898, it was not found again in 1901-2 (limited search), 1904 (extensive search) or 1908 (extensive search). Thus it likely became extinct sometime between 1898 and 1904, but possibly pre-1902 as that search should have found specimens if they still existed.



Christmas Island, Western Australia, Australia


Biology & Ecology




NHM 1899.8.6.28
NHM 1899.8.6.29
NHM 1888.7.9.5






Original scientific description:

Thomas, O. (1889) [dated 1888]. On the mammals of Christmas Island. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1888: 532-534.


Other references:

Andrews, C. W. (1900). Mammalia, pp. 22-33. In: Andrews, C. W. (ed.). A Monograph of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean). British Museum of Natural History, London, UK.

Andrews, C. W. (1909). On the fauna of Christmas Island. Proceedings of Zoological Society, London 1909: 101-103.

Aplin, Ken P. (2008). Bulldog Rat, Rattus nativitatis. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 695-696. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.

Aplin, Ken P. and Rowe, K. C. (2023). Bulldog Rat, Rattus nativitatis, pp. 503-504. In: Baker, Andrew M. and Gynther, Ian C. (eds.). Strahan’s Mammals of Australia (4th ed.). Wahroonga, NSW: Reed New Holland Publishers. 848 pp.

Armstrong, P. H. (1992). Human impacts on Australia’s Indian Ocean tropical island ecosystems: a review. The Environmentalist 12: 191-206.

Chasen, F. N. 1940. A handlist of Malaysian mammals: A systematic list of the mammals of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, and Java, including the adjacent small islands. Bulletin of the Raffles Museum, Singapore, 15:1-209.

Day, David. (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. New York, N.Y.: The Viking Press.

Ellerman, J. R. 1941. The families and genera of living rodents. Vol. II. Family Muridae. British
Museum (Natural History), London, 690 pp.

Ellerman, J. R. (1949). The families and genera of living rodents. Vol. III, Appendix II [Notes on the rodents from Madagascar in the British Museum, and on a collection from the island obtained by Mr. C. S. Webb]. British Museum (Natural History), London, 210 pp.

Fisher, Diana O. and Blomberg, Simon P. (2012). Inferring Extinction of Mammals from Sighting Records, Threats, and Biological Traits. Conservation Biology 26(1): 57-67.

Flannery, Timmothy Fridjtof. (1990). The rats of Christmas past. Australian Natural History 23: 394-400.

Forsyth Major, C. I. (1900). Notes on the osteology of Mus nativitatis and Mus macleari, pp. 34-37. In: Andrews, C. W. (ed.). A Monograph of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean). British Museum of Natural History, London, UK.

Goodwin, Harry A. and Goodwin, J. M. (1973). List of mammals which have become extinct or are possibly extinct since 1600. Int. Union Conserv. Nat. Occas. Pap. 8: 1-20.

Green, Peter T. (2014). Mammal extinction by introduced infectious disease on Christmas Island (Indian Ocean): the historical context. Australian Zoologist 37(1): 1-14. [Abstract]

Harris, D. (2009). Review of negative effects of introduced rodents on small mammals on islands. Biological Invasions 11: 1611-1630.

Jackson, Stephen and Groves, Colin. (2015). Taxonomy of Australian Mammals. Clayton South, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. 529 pp. [p. 218]

Lamoreux, J. (2008). Rattus nativitatis. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. ( Downloaded on 13 March 2011.

Lamoreux, J., Burbidge, A.A. & Woinarski, J. (2016). Rattus nativitatis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T19351A22443478. Downloaded on 26 June 2021.

Lee, T. E., Fisher, D. O., Blomberg, S. P. and Wintle, B. A. (2017). Extinct or still out there? Disentangling influences on extinction and rediscovery helps to clarify the fate of species on the edge. Global Change Biology 23(2): 621-634.

Maas, P.H.J. (2011). Bulldog Rat - Rattus nativitatis. In: TSEW (2012). The Sixth Extinction Website. ( Downloaded on 2 February 2012.

MacPhee, R. D. E. and Fleming, C. (1999). Requiem Aeternam, pp. 333-371. The last five hundred years of mammalian species extinctions. In: MacPhee, R. D. E. (ed.). Extinctions in near time. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publisher.

Misonne, X. 1969. African and Indo-Australian Muridae: Evolutionary trends. Annales Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgique, Serie IN-8, Sciences Zoologiques, 172:1-219.

Musser, G. G. 1981. Results of the Archbold Expeditions. No. 105. Notes on systematics of IndoMalayan murid rodents, and descriptions of new genera and species from Ceylon, Sulawesi, and the Philippines. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 168:225-334.

Musser, G. G. and Carleton, M. D. (1993). Family Muridae, pp. 501-755. In: Wilson, D. E. and Reeder, D. M. (eds.). Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic referenceWashington: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Musser, G.G. and Carleton, M.D. 2005. Superfamily Muroidea. In: D.E. Wilson and D.A. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: a geographic and taxonomic reference, pp. 894-1531. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA.

Musser, G. G., and C. Newcomb. 1983. Malaysian murids and the giant rat of Sumatra. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 174:327-598.

Pickering, J. and Norris, C. A. (1996). New evidence concerning the extinction of the endemic murid Rattus macleari Thomas 1887, from Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Australian Mammalogy 19: 19-25.

Turvey, Samuel T. (2009). Holocene mammal extinctions, pp. 41-61. In: Turvey, Samuel T. (ed.). Holocene Extinctions. Oxford, UK & New York, USA: Oxford University Press. xii + 352 pp.

Turvey, Samuel T. and Fritz, Susanne A. (2011). The ghosts of mammals past: biological and geographical patterns of global mammalian extinction across the Holocene. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366(1577): 2564-2576. [Supplementary Information]

Wilson, D.E. & Reeder, D.M. 2005 Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Woinarski, John C. Z., Braby, M. F., Burbidge, A. A., Coates, D., Garnett, S. T., Fensham, R. J., Legge, S. M., McKenzie, N. L., Silcock, J L. and Murphy, B. P. (2019). Reading the black book: The number, timing, distribution and causes of listed extinctions in Australia. Biological Conservation 239: 108261.

Wyatt K. B., Campos P. F., Gilbert M. T. P., Kolokotronis S-O, Hynes W. H., et al. (2008). Historical Mammal Extinction on Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) Correlates with Introduced Infectious Disease. PLoS ONE 3(11): e3602.


<< Back to the Rodents database