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Australian water rat

On the lookout for Australia's "otter"

News Article Date: 
Friday, 18 November 2016

An insight into the mysterious world of Australia’s “otter”- the native water rat - will be provided at the annual general meeting of landcare group, MAD for the Merri.

While the platypus might be Australia’s best known semi-aquatic mammal, the native water rat (Hydromys chrysogaster), has long been a part of the natural environment and is distinctly different from its closest cousins, the introduced black rat and brown rat.

“The water rat, also known as rakali, is an extremely attractive mammal,” Warrnambool and District Landcare Facilitator Jileena Cole said.

“Its thick coat of soft fur, dense whiskers, blunt muzzle, partly webbed hind feet, and furry tail, all help create a resemblance to a miniature otter.”

The illustrated presentation on the water rat will be made by director of the Australian Platypus Conservancy, Geoff Williams.

Mr Williams has studied platypus and water rats since 1994 and before helping to establish the Conservancy was Director of Healesville Sanctuary and Assistant Director of Taronga Zoo. 

“Geoff’s talk will outline the biology and conservation requirements of the Australian water rat,” Ms Cole said.

“It will also include tips on how to go about spotting this fascinating native mammal in the wild with the aim of encouraging more people to look out for and report sightings of the species.”  

The Australian Platypus Conservancy is currently conducting a community-based survey of the status and distribution of the water rat in Victoria with assistance from the Norman Wettenhall Foundation.”

“The Hopkins and Merri rivers provide suitable habitat for the water rat so we’re encouraging people who have seen any water rats to report their observations to the conservancy at www.platypus.asn.au,” Ms Cole said.

“Anyone interested learning more about the water rat or the MAD for the Merri Landcare group is welcome to come to the AGM on November 23.”

 

The details
Date: Wednesday, November 23
Time: 11.30am
Venue: Mozart Hall (corner of Gilles and Merri streets)
Lunch provided, all welcome.

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