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Rice Field Rat

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 11 months ago
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Description and Rationale

The rice field rat,or Rattus argetiventer, is not a native rodent of the Philippines. But, it is locally abundant and widely spread all over the country. Rice field rats are considered an "invasive species" because they eat and destroy the rice plants on the local fields. I also damages other crops and plantations and the rats increase really fast in numbers.

What will happen if rice field rat is overpopulated? Would it destroy the whole rice fields? What will happen to the rice industries? Will the Philippine suffer from the lack of rice? What elso do they do in our evironment? Do they spread diseases? Or is it just a peaceful rat eating rice to prevent extinction?

The Philippine Rice Research Institute and other researchers shoed that there are not many ways to manage the rat's population except for traps and early preventions. But what it the rice field is already exposed to the rats? If ever the new way of trapping rats is discovered, will the rat just be burried and become a decomposer? Or is there another way to use the dead rats wheher it might be food or leather handicrafts?

The purpose of this project would be researching about the biology and life of the rice field rat living in Luzon area. The research will be based on the observation of the actual rat(experiment) and some information from previews biologists or researchers. One of the possible experimentswill be making mink coat out of rat fur, and it will need some demonstrations or guidelines from some of the experts on rat and tailors. There will also be interviews from a scientist from IRRI(if possible) to find out more of the rat's behavior.

 

 

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Biology

 

Common Names and Synonyms

Rice field rat is the common name in the Philippines. Its scientific name is Rattus argentiventer but there are more different kinds of rice field rats such as R. exulans, R. rattus, and R. tanezumi.

The rice field rat is also called dagang bikid which literally means "field rats."

 

Classification

Kingdom  -  Animalia

Phylum    -  Chordata

Class       -  Mammalia

Order       -  Rodentia (to gnaw)

Family      -  Muridae (mouse)

Genus      -  Rattus (true rats)

Species    -  R argentiventer (rice field rats)

 

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Morphology and Physical Description

 

 

 

The rice field rat isa moderately a large species. Its head and body combines measures about 200mm or 20cm. Its tail measures around 10~20mm (1~2cm) shorter than the head and body measures added. Its color is mostly bark but sometimes mixed with silvery hair. It has long and narrow hind feet and has a small footpad and just like other rats, rice field rat has 4 big teeth

 

 

Getting Food

Rice field rat is an omnivore. It mainly eats rice but it also consumes other crops or stems and invertebrates(i.e. insects) that are living on it.

Rice field rats feed on seed directly, or pull up germinating seeds. They also pull up some transplanted plants. The rat;s feeding time is usually at night or dawn to keep away from human's sight. 

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Reproduction

Breeding starts in the rice field whe the rice plant itself matures. the Mating takes up to 1-2 weeks. The breeding goes on until the end of harvest. the female rat is pregnant for 3 weeks then give birth to around 11-12 young. The young grows really fast and starts breeding when it's 6 weeks old. The female rat is capable of getting pregnant again again after few days of delivery. It can produce up to 3 litters- all of them totaling 30~40 rats by the end of harvest.

 

Since the rat has just a short period of life span and maturity period, the rat does not have any special behaviors while growing up. The illustration above shows that the rat can mate and reproduce within three months of growth.

 

Environmental Factors

Rice field rats live mostly in lowland irrifated land crops. Its best condition for living is in the wet rice fields, grassland and plantations because it is easy to breed. They feed mostly at night and they can be seen on dawn too. Rice field rats also live underground in burrows.

There are lost of diseases that infect the rice field rat and other rodents as a host. some of these are: ringtail, traumatioc tail, babering, ringworm, and Chrimodacryorrhea. The main predators of rat is reptiles such as rat snake but some others can be birds or mammals like White-Tailed Kite(hawk) or cats. 

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Origin and Distribution

the origin in not exact but predictions say that it came from South Africa. It is largely spread in savannas or grasslands. Rice field rats largely depend on cultivated vegetation so it's usually populated where there are vegetations grown by human. It is also widely distributed in the Philippines.

Laguna and Davao is a very good example of a rice field in the Philippines. These places have huge chunks of land that is used for rice fields. Rice field rats are easily found in these areas was well as some other places in Luzon or Cebu.

 

Importance to People

Rice field rat are no help to humans all except that it eats some of the bugs in the field. But the damage they give is far bigger than the other bugs give. Rice field rats are troublemakers. The only reason the rats are in this world is to balance the ecosystem. But imagine life without rats. There will be more bugs and insects in our lives than usual.

The main probem that farmers experience is the loss of seeds. after the farmers plant the seeds, later that night, rats come and eat them. Sometimes, they just destroy the seed or the plant .

People try to use rats at least for their food. There are many recipes such as Deep Fried Rat or Rat ona Stick and there are even italian recepe called El Rof Rat(actually for roof rats). Maybe, this could be a better ways to kill rats then by trapping or poisoning.

 

 

Survivability and Endangered Status

Rice field rats have a very low risk of extinction. they are widely populated in farmland areas and have a fast reproduction rate. Rice field rat is considered and inasive specie now for their destruction of farms. But farmers are not present or move to another area abandoning the land or if there is a new way of harvestion rice by not useing the soil, then there is a possibility that the rat will extinct from starvation.

 

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Potential Solutions

 

Possibility 1

Rat Leather

In the 1970's, Korea wa so poor that they didn't have money to buy essential things. The only resource they had was the bundance of rats. So, the Koreans started to catch the rats and make leathers out of it, The fur was made into mink coats or other clothing and exported to the developed countries. The rice field rat could be a possible subject to make the leather.

Advatages:

1. according to Ms. Yeon Hwa Kim(the Korean civic teacher), the fur is softer than other expensive ones like fox or mink.

2. there are many rats in the field and is easy to get by trapping

Disadvantages:

1. the fur might be not as strong as the rats in Korea because of the environmental differences and the fast that it's a different specie.

2. it takes a lot of time and labor to skin the animal because of its size. 

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Possibility 2

Food Source

If the rat is populated and was caught, and thrown away, it would be a waste. Wouldn't it be better to just eat them?

Advantages:

1. according to some local people, the meat is edible and very delicious.

2. the meat could be cheap and easliy found compared to expensive beef or pork.

Disadvantages:

1. there are many diseases spread by rodents so there is a high possibility that the consumer could also get the disease if the rat had one.

2. the size of the rat matters since most of the rat is small. Even if the rat is big, it would take several of them to feel nourished. 

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Possibility 3-action step

New Type of traps

 The most common mousetrap is the Springload-bar mousetrap. It traps the mouse by releaseing the bar rapidly when the tip is released. This trap usually kills the rat and as time goes by, the rat will recognize that this might kill them and become uneffective. so through this research, a new kind of trap was made. it traps the mouse ans still keeps the rat alive.

Advantages:

1. There are other mouse traps that keeps the rat alive. But this one is cheaper since it's made out of plastic bottles.

2. it keeps the rat alive for further uses(possibility 1&2)

Disadvantages:

1. The size of the hole of the trap is limited for the various types and sizes of the rat.

2. since the trap is made out of plastic bottle, it is light enough for the rat to tip it over or thin enough to m

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Bibliography

Slingtom, Gr, et al. "rice field rats." Rat Doctor. 2003. International Rice Research Institute. 4 May 2007

<http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org/riceDoctor_MX/Fact_Sheets/Pests/Rice_Field_Rats.htm>

 

"rattus argentiventer." Mammalian Fauna of the Philippine Islands. 2002. Mammals of the Philippines the Field Museum. 3 May 2007

< www.fieldmuseum.org/philippine_mammals/Rattus_argentiventer.htm >

 

"rice-field rat." Wikipedia The free Encyclopedia. 2007. A wikimedia project. 5 May 2007

< http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/rattus_argentiventer >

 

"deep fried rat" BS or not. 2007. 5 May 2007

< http://bsornot.whipnet/priceless/rat4dinner.html >

 

"mousetrap." Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia. 2007. A Wikimedia Project. 3 may 2007

< http;//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mouse_trap >

 

"rice field rat" Oisat. 2005 Pan germany. 31 Jan 2005

< http://ww.oisat.org/pests/other_pests/rodents/rice_field_rat/general_information.html >

 

"rat drice launch draws interest from rural folks, students." PhilRice Online. 2004. Philippine Rice Research Institute. 19 Apr 2007

< http://www.philrice.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=89&itemid=2 >

 

Singleton, Gr, et al. "community action using ecologically based management reduces rodent damage." International Rice Research Institute. 2007. 5may 2007

< http://www.irri.org/irrc/Impact/link%20rodent%20article%20from%20grant.asp >

 

 

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