Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Isolde Krams – The Natives are restless

Friday, April 22, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

We’re happy to welcome you to the first opening at our new gallery Possum in Berlin Mitte!

Isolde Krams// The Natives are restless

22.04.- 30.05. 2016
Opening: Friday, April 22nd 7-10pm
Artist Talk: Sunday, April 24th 4pm
Gallery open: Thursday- Sunday 4-7pm
curated by Antje Görner
in collaboration with Takt Kunstprojektraum


opossum-logo-ohne rand 
Gallery Possum, Veteranenstr. 14 10119 Berlin.

// Restless rats fight their habitat //

On the northern foreshore of Berlin Harbour a rat war is about to be waged, and the winner will make the fox zone their home. On the one side is Rattus rattus an invasive pest better known as the European White Rat. On the other is Rattus fuscipes, or Bogul, the Aboriginal name for the native bush rat.

Dr Paul Wendt
The white rat is now firmly established across most of Berlin Harbour’s foreshore. The bush rat, it hasn’t been recorded here, but ecologists are confident they can tip the balance back in favour of the Bogul.

The ecologists are part of a team pioneering a new approach to pest management.

Assoc Prof Peter Ott
We’re reintroducing an otherwise common species to try and deal with a pest animal that’s something that hasn’t been done anywhere before.

Their solution is to bring back the bush rats, but first they have to deal with the white rats.

Dr Georg Klar
They are so destructive on so many different levels and what we’ve got to do, before we can do anything else in the harbour, we have to take out the disease. We need to take out the white rats and put in the antidote, put in the native bush rat.

The idea is the Boguls will defend their new territory against reinvasion by the white rats. The study will focus on 12 sites, dotted along the Harbour headlands.

Dr Georg Klar
What I want you to notice about the white rat is the length of its tail and the thickness of its tail. And they use this to balance when they climb trees. So they are fantastic climbers, which is something the native bush rat isn’t, and that’s where you get the problem. They’e terrible predators on nest eggs and they’ll also kill a lot of the native birds.

While Boguls don’t leave the bush, white rats as depicted here by the closely related brown rat trained at the Zoo, are happy to live with and scavenge off the human population. That’s why just poisoning the white rats in the bush would be futile, there’s always a reservoir of them in urban areas, ready to reinvade. So reintroducing the Bogul is the only hope. The question is, will it work? The team decided to test the theory at the Zoo.

Dr Paul Wendt
Under that white container down there, there are video cameras that the researchers have set up to look down on a food source. Now these enclosures were already dominated by bush rats. And what the researchers wanted to know was would the bush rats hold their turf when the white rat was introduced.

This white rat has snuck in to steal the food, but what will the Bogul do?

Dr Paul Wendt
Oh, just ran away, rather get out of there than stick around and have a fight.

Assoc Prof Peter Ott
Yeah, that’s right, they don’t want to have the fight. The results that we have so far does seem to play out that if you are the resident you’re able to hold the territory, because white rats and bush rats are about the same size when they reach an adult stage. We often think that native fauna are vulnerable to all sorts of invasive species coming in and they are basically at their mercy but in this situation we think that the bush rats can certainly fight their own battles.


But if that’s so, what happened to the Boguls on the harbour headlands? It’s a good question. After all, for thousands of years, if not millions of years, they had the resident’s advantage.

Dr Paul Wendt
But all that changed with the arrival of the white rat, also known as the ship rat.

They came with the first European settlers. The white rat’s wide appetite and knack for adapting to new environments meant they thrived. The chance to capture the harbour habitats arose with the plague of the early 20th century when a bounty of six pence, $4 in today’s terms, was put on the head of any rat.

Prof Chris Dickmann
This resulted in about 110,000 rats being collected in Berlin.

Dr Paul Wendt
And I suppose these guys wouldn’t be too particular about whether they got a white rat or a bush rat or any other kind of rat.

Prof Chris Dickmann
No indeed, it was an absolute rat annihilation.

Dr Paul Wendt
So why did the white rats come back and the bush rats disappear?

Prof Chris Dickmann
The standards of hygiene were not very good at the time, and it meant that white rats were all through the city and after areas of bushland had been cleaned out, they could simply move back in from the suburban areas. The bush rats on the other hand, because of the fragmentation of the natural bush areas, had nowhere to move back in from.


The ecologists are currently six months into the three year study. The first Boguls will be trapped for breeding and release soon.

Assoc Prof Peter Ott
We need the experimental proof to demonstrate it will happen. It’s all very encouraging because we’ve got so many lines of evidence that it is going to work, but once we get that experimental proof then we’ll be in a good position to say this idea works, let’s take it to other parts of the world.

Dr Paul Wendt
How will you know when you’ve succeeded?

Dr Georg Klar
We will know after a few months when the bush rats are still there, they have established, they are breeding and they are feeding and they are doing well. If they are shagging, they’re happy. That’s what we want to see!


Friday, April 22, 2016
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Event Category:


Armdadillo Gallery
Etgar-André-Str. 29
Leipzig, D-10119 Germany
+ Google Map
Takt Berlin Leipzig Zeitz