Department of Conservation rangers have trapped a large rat on the pest-free Motutapu island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Rangers had extensively hunted for the rat after it was spotted on June 26, before it was found dead 12 days later on Saturday.

The island is home to threatened native birds including the Coromandel brown kiwi, takahē, tīeke/saddleback, pōpokotea/whitehead, tūturuatu /shore plover and pāteke.

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"Catching the rat has been a great team effort," DOC Auckland Inner Islands Operations Manager Keith Gell said.

"It shows our biosecurity systems to protect the pest-free islands in the Hauraki Gulf are effective."

The rat trapped on pest-free Motutapu island. Photo / Supplied
The rat trapped on pest-free Motutapu island. Photo / Supplied

A ranger and his rodent-detecting dog were following up on an earlier sighting of a rat on the island, before spotting it late last month.

The dog was used to flush the rat out of vegetation in Home Bay, but it was able to escape by jumping into a stream and swimming out of sight.

Extra traps and tracking tunnels were set in the area, adding to additional traps and tunnels already in place as part of the biosecurity system.

Baited with peanut butter, rat tracks were recorded on ink pads inside the tunnels to help narrow down the search area.

DOC Ranger John Mackenzie with rat trapped on Motutapu island. Photo / Supplied
DOC Ranger John Mackenzie with rat trapped on Motutapu island. Photo / Supplied

"The rat was trapped in a trap saturated with rat odour. This proved highly effective in luring the rat into the trap," Gell said.

"The biosecurity systems are in place because there's an ever-present risk of a rat, mouse or other pest animal making it to one of these islands.

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"We want to remind boat owners to make sure there isn't a rat or a mouse stowed away on their vessel, whenever they're heading out to sea in the Hauraki Gulf."

Rats pose a major threat to native wildlife, eating eggs and chicks of native birds, lizards, weta as well as seeds and flowers, depriving birds of food.

Motutapu has been free of rats, stoats, possums, mice and other animal pests since 2011.