Nature conservation

Threatened species

Long-haired Rat - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Rattus villosissimus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017


Named for the long black guard hairs on the back, this rat is otherwise pale grey-brown. Ears and tail are dark grey, with the latter shorter than the head and body.


The species has been recorded over vast areas of western NSW. Strongholds are north-west of NSW, with plagues spreading south and east along river channels. Otherwise, the species is found in scattered localities in low numbers.

Habitat and ecology

  • Eats roots, stems and leaves of grasses and herbs, especially the more succulent species. Seeds, flowers and insects (e.g. locust) which become available in better seasons stimulate reproduction.
  • Sustained in mesic, densely vegetated sites. During plagues can be found in virtually all inland habitats.
  • Following extended periods of above average rainfall or flood this species can breed rapidly. Resulting populations disperse widely, then die away abruptly as food is depleted and water evaporates. Predators rely on these rat plagues for their own rapid reproduction.
  • Nocturnal, sheltering during the day in complex burrow systems or in a shallow temporary burrow.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Outwash Known None
Broken Hill ComplexMootwingee Downs Known None
Broken Hill ComplexScopes Range Predicted None
Channel CountryBulloo Predicted None
Channel CountryBulloo Dunefields Predicted None
Channel CountryCentral Depression Predicted None
Channel CountryCore Ranges Predicted None
Channel CountrySturt Stony Desert Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsLouth Plains Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsMenindee Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsWilcannia Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsCuttaburra-Paroo Predicted None
Mulga LandsKerribree Basin Predicted None
Mulga LandsParoo Overflow Predicted None
Mulga LandsParoo-Darling Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsUrisino Sandplains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsWest Warrego Predicted None
Mulga LandsWhite Cliffs Plateau Predicted None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Simpson Strzelecki DunefieldsStrzelecki Desert Known None