Water rat

My neighbour Jackie found this pathetic corpse near her house the other day. It didn’t take long to track the ID down via Menkorst and Knight’s A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. That white tail gives it away. It’s a native water rat, Hydromys chrysogaster – also known as the rakali. (Photos thanks to Jackie Cooper.)

Water rat_1 Water rat_3

Water rat_2

According to the Australian Museum,

The water rat is one of Australia’s largest rodents and is usually found near permanent bodies of fresh or brackish water.

The nearest body of water to Jackie’s house is a dam, so that was likely to be its main haunt.

The water rat feeds on a wide range of prey including large insects, crustaceans, mussels and fishes, and even frogs, lizards, small mammals and water birds. It forages by swimming underwater.

 This rat is most active around sunset and may forage during the day, too. Other Australian rodents are mostly nocturnal.

ABC Science gives a lot more details, including the fact that water rats seem to eat cane toads with relative impunity.

The burrow is built ‘along the side of rivers and lakes’ – in Jackie’s case, probably next to the dam.

The body was in good condition, not chewed or outwardly attacked, so the cause of death is not obvious. They apparently live for two or three years in the wild.

It’s the first one I’ve ever seen – they are very shy and hard to detect.

Vale, Ratty!

 

The Water-rat feeds on a wide range of prey including large insects, crustaceans, mussels and fishes, and even frogs, lizards, small mammals and water birds. It forages by swimming underwater. Once it catches its prey, it usually carries it back to a regular feeding site. – See more at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/Water-rat/#sthash.QNE1GE20.dpuf
The Water-rat is one of Australia’s largest rodents and is usually found near permanent bodies of fresh or brackish water.The Water-rat is one of Australia’s only two amphibious mammals (the platypus is the other). They live in burrows alongside river and lake banks. – See more at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/Water-rat/#sthash.QNE1GE20.dpuf
The Water-rat is one of Australia’s largest rodents and is usually found near permanent bodies of fresh or brackish water.The Water-rat is one of Australia’s only two amphibious mammals (the platypus is the other). They live in burrows alongside river and lake banks. – See more at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/Water-rat/#sthash.QNE1GE20.dpuf
The Water-rat is one of Australia’s largest rodents and is usually found near permanent bodies of fresh or brackish water.The Water-rat is one of Australia’s only two amphibious mammals (the platypus is the other). They live in burrows alongside river and lake banks. – See more at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/Water-rat/#sthash.QNE1GE20.dpuf
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