Have you seen a rakali? Researchers need help to understand them
July 8, 2024 8:32 PM   Subscribe

 
Fascinating—I'd never heard of them.

Around a quarter of all Australian mammals are rodents, descended from the first arrivals five million years ago. "There are more than 150 species in Australia and New Guinea that aren't found anywhere else in the world," Dr Emily Roycroft says.

Changing attitudes towards Australia's version of the otter.

Rakali under threat from residential development.
posted by rory at 12:45 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Have they checked the fire swamp?
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:37 AM on July 9


I assume this interest in them is to identify what novel method of killing you in spectacularly horrifying fashion they’re capable of, as seems customary in Australia.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:54 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I assume this interest in them is to identify what novel method of killing you in spectacularly horrifying fashion they’re capable of, as seems customary in Australia

Most species of Australian animals don't kill people.

I'm not sure why Australia has a reputation for dangerous animals when other countries have

polar bears
grizzly bears
black bears
mountain lions
tigers
lions
leopards
hyenas
painted dogs/Cape hunting dogs
hippos
elephants
rhinoceros
cobras...
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 8:07 AM on July 9


Part of it would be "deadly within the lifetime of people living today" memories of the years before antivenoms were developed from the 1950s onwards for redback spiders, funnelwebs, brown snakes and black snakes. They can still be a problem if you get bitten too far from medical care—I remember reports of some poor bloke in the Snowy Mountains dying from a snake bite because he couldn't get to hospital quickly enough in the 1990s.

Part of it would be that half the deadly critters are small or smallish ones that you could run into in urban areas. Bull-ants sometimes kill people who are allergic to them.

And part of it would be Aussies winding up tourists with lurid tales of dropbears...
posted by rory at 9:28 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


For anyone reading this: the only "dropbears" Australia has ever had were Thylacoleo, and Thylacoleo has been extinct for around 40,000 years.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 9:55 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Lies!
posted by rory at 10:47 AM on July 9


Australian mammals are the cutest of all mammals. Australian non-mammals are ... less so.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 1:21 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


It's not that we have particularly dangerous animals, it's more that ours are very close to people basically at all times and are often unseen. Nobody's out there checking their shoes in the morning in case a venomous funnel web rhinoceros has moved in overnight.
posted by Jilder at 8:34 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


But to be a bit more on topic, I think I have only ever seen a rakali once, plopping into the mangroves under the Southbank boardwalk one evening like, fifteen years ago. I thought it was a ring-tail possum until it went for a swim.
posted by Jilder at 8:35 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


squee! These look like elongated muskrats (though nothing to do with That Guy)
posted by scruss at 1:40 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


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