Cotton RiverCare blog - Templeton the water rat

Cotton RiverCare is a program that promotes and supports responsible management of riverine areas within cotton growing regions of Australia.

The program follows the journey of cotton grower and national Cotton RiverCare champion, Mark Palfreyman. Mark and his wife Anne and their four children Edward, Finn, Wilson & Elsie blog about discovering what biodiversity lives on their farm, how their management decisions impact on the condition of their riverine areas and the benefits healthy riverine areas can provide their farming business.

We are all very excited as we recently had the pleasure of seeing a 'rakali' or water rat (Hydromys chrysogaster) on our farm. We have been trying to get this photo for a few days but he is well camouflaged against the debris in the river and is a very fast swimmer! Cute little guy, my wife and the kids named him Templeton.

These rats are commonly found in rivers and creeks and even irrigation channels. They have partially-webbed hind feet for swimming and a distinctive white-tipped tail. Their fur is water repellent and their streamlined bodies makes them very fast in the water, as we found out!

They are mainly nocturnal, living in burrows dug into river banks. They mainly eat fish and yabbies’ using selected spots for eating which can often be identified by little piles of shells and bones. They live for only two-three years in the wild breeding in the warmer months if there is sufficient water and food. They form strong family bonds. Water rats can drown if caught in underwater fishing nets or traps.

- Mark.