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August 09 Edition Cover

Encounter with a native water rat

04 Jun 2015

Encounter with a native water rat Image

By Derrick Koo

A few weeks ago, I encountered a rakali, a native water rat, for the first time.

On this night, the creature crossed my path, strolled along the wooden curb by the water and weaved around pedestrians in the shadows, displaying a certain kind of cautious intelligence. It then proceeded to gracefully dive into the water before emerging again to continue to forage.

Spellbound by this beautiful creature, I trained my camera on it and followed behind at a respectable distance. This was challenging due to the darkness and only the white tip of its long tail was visible at times.

As a photographer, I refused to give up on my quarry and persevered. My movements alerted several passers-by to the rakali’s presence and one of them proceeded to ambush then kick it!

Thankfully, it escaped unharmed and went about its business of finding food. I even managed to take a photo of it with the Bolte Bridge in the background! When I last saw it, it had its head deep inside a paper bag to find some morsels, completely oblivious to my presence.

I have been a resident of the Docklands since 2005 and this was the very first time I had seen them. Their appearance seems to coincide with the removal of the concrete platforms.

I believe that their burrows were located beneath these structures before being exposed to the world by construction work.

Even though the rakali are not endangered, I believe that there should be greater awareness about their existence within the community as they are our fellow Docklands residents too.

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