By Robin Villiers-Brown
One of the hidden golden gems of the Australian bush is the Rakali (Hydromys chrosacaster) also known as Australia’s Otter.
When I saw my first Rakali that is just what I saw – something on the creek bank.
Personally, I think they are the prettiest of our furry Australian wildlife, with their golden fur on their chest and belly, and their white tipped tail, and little pink paws.
They are fun to watch as they roll and duck and dive, or float like an otter or sit up holding a snack in their paws.
They are also ecosystem savers. They don’t just live in our creeks but they are actively saving them for us.
While toads are spreading and killing varieties of wildlife, Rakali have learned how to kill and actively hunt them as a food source.
The same size as Platypuses, Rakali exist peacefully with the better known Australian mammal often exchanging burrows and eating different foods.
Rakali are in fact native water rats, with little webbed feet. But their ecological role is similar to that of otters found on other continents.
So be nice to Rakali and you’ll help Australia’s wildlife and get rid of toads, and help our streams and water.
To help Rakali (and also Platypuses) you can:
Encourage appropriate vegetation to grow along the banks of waterways.
Keep plenty of woody debris in waterways to provide habitat for the young of native fish and for aquatic invertebrates.
Promote awareness that Rakali contribute to ecological health and biodiversity.
Rakali Awareness Day is 18 February.
There is not much research on Rakali and if you see one, please report it to the Australian Platypus Conservancy at www.platypus.asn.au.
Beaudesert Landcare will be having an information session on Rakali in the future and can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org.