Hydromys chrysogaster

The Rakali  also known as the Water-rat, it is one of Australia’s largest rodents and  may be found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia (south-west and north), Northern Territory in waterways in most habitats including beaches and urban rivers.

Rakali have a flattened head, a long blunt nose and small eyes and ears. The tail is long with a white tip. Well adapted to aquatic life with webbed hind feet and waterproof coat, they live in burrows alongside river and lake banks. The burrow is usually hidden among vegetation and built along the banks of rivers and lakes. The round entrance has a diameter of about 15 cm. In dense populations, males are territorial and defend their areas aggressively.

The Rakali is most active around sunset, but unlike Australia’s other rodents that are all nocturnal, the Rakali may also forage during the day.  Prey includes large insects, crustaceans, mussels and fish, frogs, lizards, small mammals and water birds. It forages by swimming underwater; once prey has been caught it usually carries it back to a regular feeding site.

The main threats to the Rakali are habitat alteration as a result of flood mitigation and swamp drainage, and predation by introduced animals such as cats and foxes.


Australian Museum