Today we begin the first of our annual inspections of Cockatoo Island. I feel like Darwin stepping onto an unknown island, ready to chronicle the creatures uncovered.
Because of the public nature of this site we feel some obligation to report more widely on what we discover here than we would for a private site.
Of native animals, land-crabs and rats swarm in numbers. Whether the rat is really indigenous may well be doubted; there are two varieties as described by Mr. Waterhouse; one is of a black colour, with fine glossy fur, and lives on the grassy summit, the other is brown-coloured and less glossy, with longer hairs, and lives near the settlement on the coast. Both these varieties are one-third smaller than the common black rat (M. rattus); and they differ from it both in the colour and character of their fur, but in no other essential respect. I can hardly doubt that these rats (like the common mouse, which has also run wild) have been imported, and, as at the Galapagos, have varied from the effect of the new conditions to which they have been exposed: hence the variety on the summit of the island differs from that on the coast.
Looking back on last week’s post I realize I have been too engrossed in Voyage of the Beagle. Nevertheless, we are seeing evidence of rats in some of the more hidden locations, no doubt a legacy of the shipbuilding that took place here for many years. It is clear that part of our final report will have to include an eradication plan.
Cockatoo staff and rangers have been extremely helpful in arranging for us to inspect every location we have requested.
Based on extensive inspections and a thorough analysis of our findings we have set in motion the plan depicted as a means of controlling the pest uncovered here.