Water Rat

Water Rat

Hydromys chrysogaster


Body length 300 mm; tail length 270 mm; weight 700 g. Large (rabbit-sized); brown-black back, golden belly; small ears; flattish ‘square’ head; white-tipped tail.

Habitat and Range:

River banks, estuaries, beaches, mangroves, wharves, lakes, dams, creeks and polluted watercourses. Also recorded from St Helena, Nth Stradbroke and Moreton Is. Reasonably common, though rarely seen. Australia-wide.


Active day or night. Eats mainly yabbies, mussels and fish, although poultry, frogs and snails may be taken. Builds a nest at the end of a complex burrow along the waterside. Similar to the Platypus and Common Ringtail Possum.


Tough and resilient — threatened only by localised habitat destruction (swamp drainage and land reclamation).


Strong fishy scent; ‘runway’ tracks along water’s edge; feeding ‘tables’ scattered with shells and other leftovers. Torpedo-shaped droppings (25 mm long by 8 mm wide); dead poultry with throats and heads roughly skinned. Ponds surrounded by fish bodies.

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