This furry little water rat is known as the Rakali and can be found along the banks of the River Torrens.
Only one of Australia's two amphibious mammals (the Platypus is the other), the Rakali require permanent fresh or brackish water in which to live and eat a diet of fish, aquatic insects, spiders, frogs and reptiles.
They live in burrows alongside river and lake banks and are generally nocturnal. They are most active in the early evening and early morning and when foraging for food, they often follow regular routes and tracks.
Unlike other rodents, the Rakali has webbed hind feet and a waterproof coat. They have large bodies that can be up to 40-50cm long and they have a distinctive long tail with a white tip. The main characteristics which help people identify a Rakali from other rodents include:
- front teeth - one pair of distinctive chisel shaped incisors with hard yellow enamel on the front surfaces
- head - flattened head, long blunt nose with an abundance of whiskers, small eyes and small ears
- colouring - near black or grey to brown with a white/golden coloured belly
- tail - thick with a white tip
- hind feet - webbed.
Interaction with people
The Rakali is a protected species* in Australia. This means it is illegal to catch, kill, trap or keep one. While they have been known to adapt well to urban growth near their homes, urbanisation and change of land use has threatened the survival of this creature. Foxes and cats have also been known to be a threat to the Rakali.
Unlike some other rodents, Rakali are not likely to come into your house. The habitat they prefer, and the food resources that they need, are not found in urban homes. They do not pose a threat to vegetable gardens.
Protecting this species
You can help protect this native species by leaving vegetation to grow around watercourses. This helps prevent bank erosion and maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems.
* National Parks and Wildlife Act