Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Rakali: our native otter

Posted on 23 September, 2020 by Frances

Our friends at the Australian Platypus Conservancy have issued their latest newsletter including a fabulous image and article on the Australian Water-rat or Rakali. Rakalis are known to inhabit suitable dams and waterways across Central Victoria. They’re regularly seen in Lake Daylesford and the Coliban River at Kyneton. Please enjoy this article from the Australian Platypus Conservancy, and for more Rakali fun facts see Connecting Country’s previous post – click here

Rakali dining (photo courtesy of Sputnik and Australian Platypus Conservancy)

A truly laid back ‘Aussie otter’

The Australian water-rat (or rakali) typically carries its food to a convenient log or rock before sitting down to dine. The remains of water-rat takeaway – piles of mussel or clam shells, crayfish claws and fish bones – often accumulate at favourite feeding platforms, providing reliable evidence that rakali occur in the vicinity. However, water-rats sometimes remain in the water while consuming their
prey, occasionally using their chest as a makeshift table – behaviour very reminiscent of sea otters. Many thanks to Sputnik for sharing this very engaging image of Australia’s version of an otter enjoying a fish snack while floating in the midst of water fern (or Azolla).

Incidentally, this photo was taken at Tailem Bend in South Australia – one of the few remaining jurisdictions in Australia that still allows enclosed yabby traps to be set anywhere in freshwater habitats. The South Australian government claims that its requirement for entrance rings to have a maximum diameter of 7.5 centimetres excludes all air-breathing fauna from traps, but this is simply not true for rakali. Due to their stream-lined shape, most (possibly all) water-rats will fit through a 7.5-centimetre hole, and many of these attractive and intelligent native mammals reportedly drown in South Australia each year.

To view latest news from the Australian Platypus Conservancy (Issue 81 – August 2020) – click here

To learn more about Victoria’s yabby net regulations – click here

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