Bulldog Rat – It Was Very Good

Bulldog Rat
Bulldog Rat, Charles William Andrews, 1900

Bulldog Rat (Rattus nativitatis)

The Bulldog Rat lived on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. The species was first described in 1886 when Captain Maclear of the British vessel, H.M.S. “Flying Fish,” formally surveyed the island. The island’s rat population (Two species) was described as “abundant” in 1887.

The Bulldog Rat was an average sized rat with a body length between 9 and 10 1/2 inches. The rat’s tail was relatively short for the species at about 6 1/2 inches but was very thick. Their head was relatively small, slender, and delicate.  The rats had very broad and strong claws on their thick, heavy feet. The rats were uniformly dark brown coats of fur.

The habitat, range, lifestyle, and food sources for the Bulldog Rat are largely unknown with the description of the species coming from one single survey, while educated guesses may be made from the gathered specimens much it just not known.

Bulldog Rat
Skull of Rattus nativitatis, Charles William Andrews, 1900

The Bulldog Rat went extinct due to epidemic disease or diseases. In 1901 when a Scientist visited the island he was unable to collect or find a single specimen even after offering cash rewards for one from the island’s human population. The disease or diseases responsible for the death of the Bulldog Rat were probably transmitted by the common Black Rat that was inadvertently introduced to Christmas Island in 1899.

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