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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 25;11(3):e0152511. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152511. eCollection 2016.

A Two-Year Ecological Study of Norway Rats (Rattus norvegicus) in a Brazilian Urban Slum.

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Centro de Pesquisas Gonçalo Moniz, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Ministério da Saúde, Salvador, Brazil.
Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Centro de Controle de Zoonoses, Secretaria Municipal de Saúde, Ministério da Saúde, Salvador, Brazil.
Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil.


The Norway or brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) is among the most ubiquitous of rodents. However, the lack of studies describing Norway rat populations from tropical areas have limited our understanding regarding their demography and seasonal dynamics. In this study, we describe seasonal pattern in the abundance, reproductive parameters, and morphometrics of Norway rat populations in Salvador, Brazil. Rodents were trapped over four seasonal trapping periods (2013-2014) from three valleys. A total of 802 Norway rats were trapped over the course of the study over 7653 trap-nights. Norway rat abundance was high, but there was no significant differences between seasons. The reproductive parameters (e.g. frequency of pregnant and lactating females) did not show statistical differences between seasons. Female rats collected in the rainy season were heavier and older than females from the dry season. Salvador rats had a high incidence of pregnancy and birth rate (estimated birth rate of 79 young per year) compared to previous studies. The information generated is critical for the understanding of the ecology of Norway rat, the main reservoir of Leptospira in Salvador. However, future studies examining the effect of rodent control programs aimed at reducing populations, and determining rates of recovery, will further clarify our understanding of population dynamics.

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