I finally got a good look at the furtive nocturnal visitor I first spotted back in November. I have caught a glimpse of it a few times since, always late at night, but never clearly enough to identify. This time I had a good look in the light from across the way at about 04:30 this morning. The typical white tipped tail was the final clue. It is not a possum, a bettong or a potoroo. I was looking in the wrong checklists. It is not even marsupial, though it is native.
It’s a rakali. The Australian native water rat. Hydromys chrysogaster.
At dinner last night I had cut the skin and fat from my lamb steak and put it out for the goanna or turkey – whichever found it first.
The rustling I heard early this morning was neither the stealthy creep of a goanna nor the heedless blundering of a turkey, but the far more furtive and hesitant sound I associated with my so far unidentified friend. I rose quietly, grabbed a camera and limped carefully to the door. I peered out through the magnetised flyscreen. I could see the visitor quite clearly in the dim light, eating the rind of my evening meal. At first I thought it was a large ferret or a stoat but I could see webbed feet and a long white tip on the tail. I tried to quietly open the flyscreen curtain for a photo, but it rattled and the creature was gone.
The details I had seen, plus the fact it eats meat, helped me find it on line. Then I checked and found it is listed as commonly found on Bribie.
Another little mystery solved.