The Australian Platypus Conservancy has recently
initiated Water-rat Report, a community-based
monitoring program for the Australian water-rat.
This attractive native rodent (also known as
rakali) is the largest mammal to share the
platypus’s freshwater habitat.
The Australian water-rat occupies an ecological
niche similar to that of otters on other
continents and has many otter-like traits,
including a streamlined body, partly webbed hind
feet and luxuriously dense, water-repellent fur.
Water-rat Report is modelled on the APC’s
successful Platypus Care project: reports
of past and present sightings of Hydromys are
being collected to learn more about the
species’ current status and distribution.
Features and Behaviour
Water-rats are shaped for life in
the water, looking more like a small
otter than a barn rat:
feet are broad and paddle-like, with
webbing present between the toes
is well-furred and thick (to help
serve as a rudder when swimming)
are small and can be folded flat
against the head (for streamlined
is blunt with a thick set of
whiskers (to help find food at night
is soft, dense, lustrous and
water-repellent (to dry quickly and
help keep the animal warm)
Based on anecdotal reports, water-rats will
travel several hundred metres across dry land in
order to dine on delicacies, such as pet food
left out regularly on a back porch. These
animals also appear to have the rare ability to
be able to kill the introduced cane toads,
without falling victim to the toad’s poisonous
Social Organisation and Life Cycle
Apart from females raising
dependent offspring, water-rats lead solitary
lives. The animals are highly territorial,
marking their areas with a strong and
distinctive scent. Mating occurs in late
winter to early summer, with juveniles appearing
from September to February. Females
generally begin to breed at (or after) the age
of 8 months, and raise up to five litters
(though usually just 1-2) per year, each
typically composed of 3-4 juveniles. The
young remain with their mother for about two
months before leaving home. It is believed
that water-rats normally survive for a maximum
of about 3 or 4 years in the wild. For
more information:- Visit the Australian Platypus
Koalas are marsupials, like kangaroos and
wombats. Unlike placental mammals, marsupials
are mammals that give birth to very
underdeveloped young that then complete their
development outside the mother's body - often in
Adult koalas weigh between four and 14
kilograms depending on their sex and where they
are from. Males are up to 50 per cent heavier
than females. Koalas from Victoria normally
weigh eight to 12 kilograms, while those from
Queensland weigh between five and seven
Koalas have few natural predators. In the past,
the major cause of death appears to have been
dingoes. Young koalas may occasionally be taken
by powerful owls or wedge-tailed eagles
Koalas don't protect a territory of their own.
However, each koala does have an area of
regularly used food trees called a home range.
Home ranges vary in size depending on the nature
of the habitat, but are usually less than three
hectares in size
koala's thick fur acts as a great insulator. In
cold weather, a koala huddles in a ball with its
back to the wind. On hot days, it stretches out
along a branch. It may also seek shade on the
ground or in non-eucalypt trees with dense
koala populations, including Phillip Island's,
are under threat from habitat loss, dog attacks,
and cars. As many populations decline, others,
such as those on French Island, are at risk
through overpopulation of their limited habitat.
This leads to over-browsing and destruction of
the trees, threatening the koalas with
starvation. Below are some simple things that
you can do to help.
is the greatest threat facing koalas.
There is an urgent need for habitat conservation
and restoration, including wildlife corridors to
link isolated patches of habitat.
you can help
koalas, including the one pictured,
are mauled and killed by dogs. Don't
allow your dog to roam at any time,
and restrain it at
night if koalas are likely to use
trees on your property.
that creates difficult barriers for
koalas increases the
likelihood of dog attacks and road
kills. If you have high, smooth
fencing around your property,
consider growing trees against the
fence to give koalas an escape
route. Even a piece of wood placed
at an angle against the fence could
solve the problem.
extra care when animals are most
active. Koalas are active
at night, particularly during the
mating season between August and
December. Other native species, such
as kangaroos and wallabies, are most
active at dawn and dusk.
extra care when driving through well
vegetated areas, especially those
areas sign-posted for native
aware of the distance it takes to
stop your car at high speed.
high beam when driving at night and
slow down if you need
to dip your headlights for other
drive if you are fatigued.
you do hit a koala or find an
injured, sick, or dead animal,
please stop and help.
Information on how to assist is
on the following websites