Water rats are part of 18 specifies that are classified as rodents that can live on water and land and are carnivorous. If you have ever considered owning one as a pet, or you’re just curious, here are things you need to know.
Features of Water Rats
Water rats have many adaptations that make them able to hunt for food in the water. They are able to burrow along streams, lakes, and rivers.
They have small eyes, nostrils that can be shut voluntarily to prevent water from getting inside, and tiny external ears. Their whiskers are very sensitive and abundant. They have a thick fur that is water-repellent and is usually brown or gray color, long, wooly, and dense. Their tails are very hairy; they are hindered, wide, and long with hairless soles and webbing between their digits.
The smallest species of water rats are the fish-eating rats of South America called the Neusticomys monticolus. They are 10-12 cm in length, and their tails are almost as long as their bodies.
The water rats with golden bellies, the Hydromys Chrysogaster species, are based in New Guinea and Australia. They are the largest species of water rats with a body length of 20 – 39 cm and a tail of 20 – 33cm. Water for pets is very important as they normally live close to freshwater lakes, rivers, and estuaries or mangrove swamps. They can also survive in aquatic habitats that are heavily polluted, though this is not their preference.
Most water rats are very good at swimming. They hunt for their prey aggressively under the water, except the Colomys gosling which is known as the water rat from Africa. They like to wade inside shallow water or sit near the edge of the water. Their muzzle is usually placed into the water to hunt snails, but on the land, they hunt terrestrial insects.
Although water rats are mostly nocturnal animals, there are some species that like to be active in the day time.
The Hydromys species of water rats live close to the mountainside or in the coastal lowlands in New Guinea, Australia, and islands near those countries. The Crossomys moncktoni species, known as the water rats with no ears, lives in the mountains in the east of New Guinea. It likes to be in streams that are fast-flowing and cold with grass or a tropical forest surrounding it. The water rat species from Africa also prefer streams with tropical forests nearby.
There are 11 species of water rats found naturally in the Western Hemisphere. They are in countries such as Mexico and all the way into South America. They live very close to streams situated in rainforests or in pastures in mountains.
The Food of Water Rats
The Hydromys species eat a wide variety of snails, aquatic insects, mussels, crayfish, and crabs. The vertebrates they eat include fish, turtles, frogs, birds, bats, bird eggs, and mice.
For other species of water rats, water for pets must be freshwater that is clear and unpolluted. Their diet consists mostly of aquatic insects, crustaceans, and sometimes, small fish.