Recording a Rakali Sighting at Narrandera Wetlands

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Water RatNarrandera Landcare started doing quarterly bird surveys at the Narrandera Wetlands 18 months ago and we are very appreciative of the help Alan and Nella give us to compile the surveys. We use the handy Birdata app and usually record around 30 species. Our last survey was 2 July 2020 and we observed 31 species.

A lot of the usual waterbirds (Egrets, Spoonbills and Herons) were noticeably absent but the woodland birds were abundant. The results can be seen here

Whilst walking around the Wetlands looking for birds both Alan and Nella observed an Australian Water Rat swimming around and Nella said it rated as a “significant sighting”. I didn’t see it and couldn’t get a photo.

Later that day I pondered the best way to somehow report this sighting – iNaturalist didn’t seem the best platform due to the way it’s structured (you basically need a photo). “Bio-collect” didn’t seem right either, so I looked up the Australian Platypus Conservancy website, who are also interested in Water Rats. Their sighting form was easy to fill in and submit,  and I got a very appreciative email thanking me for the observation. It included an attachment with information on Hydromys chrysogaster or Rakalis.

After my first sighting of a Water Rat 2 years ago I looked them up and remembered thinking at the time they are done a dis-service by being lumped in with “rats”.  While a rodent they can be referred to as Australia’s Otter. “Their muzzle is blunt and furnished with a dense set of whiskers, hind feet are broad, partly webbed and paddle-like. Their tail is well-furred and thick to help serve as a rudder when swimming and their body is elongated and streamlined. Fur is soft and lustrous, drying quickly and helping to keep the animal warm in the water.”

More information on them can be found here The Australian Platypus Conservancy would appreciate any sighting of these or any Platypus you may observe.

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Glenn Currie