Rakali, the swimming rat.
- Rakali are also known as ‘water rats’, or ‘Australian water rat’ and are native to Australia and Papua New Guinea.
- Rakali are amphibious rats that have webbed back feet, waterproof fur, a flat head and a long and thick, white tipped rudder like tail.
- The scientific name of rakali is ‘Hydromys chrysogaster’ and they are one of the largest rodents native to Australia.
- Rakali live in fresh or salt water environments, and burrow and dig along riverbanks, lakes, and estuaries.
- The diet of a rakali includes water insects, mussels, fish, crustaceans, frogs, birds and their eggs.
Image courtesy of Val Laird
- Rakali have bodies that grow to 23 to 37 cm (9 to 15 inches) in length, and have a total length of approximately 60 cm (23 inches), including the tail, and are grey, black or brown in colour, with an orange, cream, white or golden belly.
- The original name of ‘rakali’ was ‘water rat’ until an agreement occurred to change the name to the Australian indigenous name for the rat, ‘rakali’.
- Rakali are most commonly seen and observed a little before sunset and look like otters when swimming in the water.
- The typical litter of rakali is three to four babies, with up to five litters in a year.
- Rakali are preyed on by large fish, birds, cats and foxes.