Hydromys chrysogaster, commonly known as Rakali or Water-rat, is an Australian native rodent. The species lives in burrows on the banks of rivers, lakes and estuaries and feeds on aquatic insects, fish, crustaceans, mussels, snails, frogs, birds' eggs and water birds. Rakali have a body 231–370 millimetres (9.1–14.6 in) in length, weigh 340–1,275 grams (0.750–2.811 lb), and have a thick tail measuring around 242–345 millimetres (9.5–13.6 in). They have webbed hind legs, waterproof fur, a flattened head, a long blunt nose, many whiskers and small ears and eyes. They are black to brown in colour with an orange to white belly, and dark tail with a white tip.
Until the 1980s, this species was commonly known as Water-rat, but during the 1990s there was a push for such descriptive English common names to be replaced with indigenous names. In 1995 the Australian Nature Conservation Agency released a document in which the following indigenous names were recorded for H. chrysogaster. They recommended that the name Rakali be adopted as the common name, and the Australian Department of Environment and Heritage has taken up this suggestion. Both common names are now widespread.
Hydromys chrysogaster at the St Kilda Breakwater
Hydromys chrysogaster at the St Kilda Breakwater (rear view showing white-tipped tail)
- ^ Aplin, K., Copley, P., Robinson, T., Burbidge, A., Morris, K., Woinarski, J., Friend, T., Ellis, M. & Menkhorst, P. (2008). Hydromys chrysogaster. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
- ^ a b Braithwaite R. W. et al. (1995). Australian names for Australian rodents. Australian Nature Conservation Agency. ISBN 0-642-21373-9.
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