Update May 2019
Bland’s Pool is being surveyed with three wildlife cameras deployed. Rakali were recorded at Gwambygine Pool with three photos taken of two separate animals. Footage was captured at dawn and dusk on three consecutive days indicating healthy water rat activity. Gwambygine Pool is full and has started flowing, Dale River catchment rainfall events are contributing to this. The video below shows two Rakali in another Avon River pool. One was very shy and kept away from us, you can see it swim across the pool at the begining of the video, the other one swims down the right hand bank ending up very close to us, video was taken at approx 4:45pm, so lucky to see them!
Update May 2018
The last few months have been very busy with our water rat surveys on the Avon River and the results have been very encouraging. Thankfully the weather has been very kind to us with participants surveying for water rat sign both on the water and along the riverbanks. Very welcome relief on hot days paddling around the pools.
Hydromys has been very busy this year and it is looking as if we have an active population of water rats (and quite possibly a breeding population) living in the Avon River system and its pools within the York Shire.
The more we learn about the movements and habits of this very shy rodent the more amazed we are due to their habits and behaviours.
These rodents can cover a fair bit of ground during the night on their food foraging trips and are amazingly fast swimmers. They can also become extremely aggressive to intruding feral rodents who happen to encroach on their territory or feeding middens to scrounge a few scraps!
The River Conservation Society is undertaking research into the wild population of the Water Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster) along the Avon River environs. This animal is well adapted to an aquatic life and is one of Australia’s largest rodents
It was thought that the native water rat had disappeared from the Avon River due to poor water quality. dwindling food sources and the filling in of permanent pools along the Avon River due to sedimentation.
Pictures taken recently by the survey team have been confirmed by the Zoological Department of the University of Western Australia as that of the native water rat (Hydromys chrysogaster) and identified as that of a mature, healthy adult, possibly female. This native rodent appears to be actively foraging at night. Images were obtained using infrared technology located near feeding middens identified during the Society’s surveys of native water rat habitat.
This evidence provides new and interesting information concerning this native rodent’s distribution within Western Australia and is extremely important for the eastern wheat belt region of Western Australia as it was thought to have disappeared from this region in the last 10-15 years. With further research required it may well provide new insight into the genetic diversity of this species in inland regions.
The purpose of the project being undertaken by the River Conservation Society is to establish if there is a breeding population of Hydromys chrysogaster still active within the Avon River region. Should the water rat be deemed under threat then methods will be explored to increase numbers and provide habitat to help protect these native animals.
This is exciting news for River Conservation Society members, the York community and the University of Western Australia. It highlights the importance of the Avon River and the role it plays in protecting the diversity of native fauna and flora along the river and its surrounding riparian zones.