Western Australia's only amphibious, land-based mammal was hunted nearly to extinction for its lush pelt.
Distribution: East, northern and south-western Australia and Papua New Guinea Habitat: On the banks of lakes, streams and other bodies of water
Description: Apart from the platypus, the Rakali is the only amphibious land-based Australian mammal. It has broad, partially-webbed hindfeet, water-repellent fur and many whiskers. The Rakali varies in colouration from brown to grey-brown or black on its back with a pale belly. The tail is long, sparsely haired and 22–32 cm long. Males are slightly larger than females.
Diet: The Rakali is a carnivore and eats aquatic insects, fish, crustaceans and mussels. Frogs, lizards, small mammals and water birds might also be eaten.
Behaviour: Unlike many Australian rodents, the Rakali is not entirely nocturnal. It is most active around sunset and has been seen foraging during the day. They are slightly clumsy on land and can climb hollow trees in search of prey. However, they prefer to catch their prey in the water.
Threats: Snakes and large fish are natural predators of young Rakali while birds of prey and cats hunt both adult and young Rakali. Rakali are an important indicator of aquatic ecosystem health. Drought and habitat degradation are threats to their continued survival. They were heavily hunted for their pelts in the 1930s and 1940s until they became a protected species.
Did you Know?
Rakali can run twice as fast as they can swim.