White-tailed Water Rat, Murphy's Ck, Upper Lockyer

It's not their fault they don't have feathers! Doesn't make them any less interesting. And just like the birds, it's good to know what species are about locally at any given time.

There's expertise within the club and beyond on most aspects of our local fauna. Let's tap into it.
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Mick Atzeni
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Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2005 9:08 pm

White-tailed Water Rat, Murphy's Ck, Upper Lockyer

Post by Mick Atzeni » Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:12 pm

Folks

Was lucky enough to spot the Pale-vented Bush-hen standing quietly under cover in the shallows of the creek at Tiddalac late yesterday afternoon. Suddenly it took fright - gave a squawk and literally leapt out of the creek into some lantana on the water's edge. A dark form had swam straight past it then must have dived. I assumed it was one of the resident platypuses (platypi?) but I did think it was travelling a bit fast. Then a few seconds later I realised it was a White-tailed Water Rat as it resurfaced and swam across towards my side of the creek, then dived again showing the tell-tale tail. I have since read that waterbirds are on this giant rat's menu so guess my bush-hen can consider itself lucky :D Would have been devastating to see this local rarity taken out before my own eyes! Then again ...

I haven't seen many water rats in my life-time - could probably count them on two hands - and this is my first for Tiddalac. I'm just wondering how often these are seen in the creeks around Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, and their local status?
Last edited by Mick Atzeni on Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Michael Atzeni
7 Woden St, Murphys Creek 4352
Mob: 0499 395 485

Rod Hobson
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:03 am

Water Rat

Post by Rod Hobson » Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:58 pm

Mick,

The Water Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster) is common around Toowoomba, and generally can be considered as such throughout its extensive range. It is found well within suburban Toowoomba (Gowrie Creek, Alderley Street Waterbird Habitat, Wetalla, Black Gully). It is resident in Gatton Apex Lake, Cooby Dam, Bowenville Reserve and Oakey Creek at Oakey to name but some of the places that I've recorded it over the years.

The Water Rat is an adaptable species and doesn't at all mind living in close proximity to humans. It is just that it is quite a secretive animal and usually disappears before people see it. I used to see it not far from "Tiddalac", at the railway bridge at Lockyer Siding, when I used to go there looking for Platypus.

Also, Mick the plural of platypus is platypus or platypuses, definitely not platypi; that's pseudo- or Dog Latin; a Latin suffix on a Greek noun. The same for octopus; not octopi but octopus or octopuses. Or if you wanted to get really technical then platypods or platypoda, octopods or octopoda.

Cheers, Mate
Rod Hobson
Last edited by Rod Hobson on Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Rod Hobson
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:03 am

Some More on Water Rats

Post by Rod Hobson » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:50 pm

Mick,

The Toowooba locations where I have recorded the Water Rat are:

In Gowrie Creek below the Bridge Street crossing.

In Gowrie Creek below the North Street crossing.

At the Weale Street crossing of Gowrie Creek, Wetalla.

Under the footbridge at the Mort Street crossing of Black Gully.

In the Alderley Street Duck Pond, oops! sorry Waterbird Habitat.

I reckon that the Water Rat is doing well around Toowoomba; it's an adaptable and hardy species. In their classic work on Australian rodents Christopher Watts and Heather Aslin (1981) state, "One notable aspect of the water-rat's distribution is that it is common in heavily settled areas, and frequently persists even in the heavily polluted rivers of the major cities. " and, "The water-rat must be ranked among the few native animals which has survived and possibly even profited from intensive human settlement in some areas."

My very first experience of the Water Rat in Toowoomba was in the mid-late 1960's when I saw them in the creek below Coonans Tannery in Mort Street. In those days the water was putrid from tannery run-off but despite this the Water Rat thrived there. The tannery is long gone now but the Water Rat is still happily ensconced there to this present time. At least it was up and until about three years ago when I last saw it there. I don't imagine anything has changed in the interim.

The Water Rat is truly one of Toowoomba's little known and unsung survivors.

Reference: Watts, C.H.S. & Aslin, H.J. (1981). "The Rodents of Australia", Angus & Robertson Publishers, Australia.

Regards,
Rod Hobson
Last edited by Rod Hobson on Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Mick Atzeni
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White-tailed Water Rat, Murphy's Ck, Upper Lockyer

Post by Mick Atzeni » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:24 pm

Rod

Thanks for all that. Much appreciated.

My closest Lockyer Valley sighting to here I can think of was at the dam at Lowe's Rd, Placid Hills.

Cheers
Mick
Michael Atzeni
7 Woden St, Murphys Creek 4352
Mob: 0499 395 485

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