The geographic range of Xeromys myoides is restricted to Australia. Though originally known only in Southeast Queensland and the Northern Territory, the false water-rat is currently found in the central and southern parts of Queensland, North Stradbroke Island off the coast of Southeast Queensland, the Northern territory, and on the nearby Melville Island (Wilson and Reeder, 1993; Nowak, 1999)
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
False water-rats have markedly long, flattened heads with small eyes and short, rounded ears. These rats possess just two molars on each side of the upper and lower jaw. Their upper incisors are yellow or orange and the lower incisors are white.
The head and body length of the false water-rat is 115-27mm. The tail length is 85-100mm and the hind-foot length is 23-26mm. Body fur is generally dark gray, which gradually blends into the white underside. This coat is water-resistant. The hands, feet, and tail are covered with fine, white hairs, and the feet are not webbed. The tail of these rats is scaled.
Females have four teats (Nowak, 1999; Taylor, 1984).
Range mass: 40 to 60 g.
Habitat and Ecology
The false water-rat is found mainly in coastal swamps with mangrove forest. It has also been recorded near freshwater lagoons, sedged lakes, and grassy and reed swamps. It appears to dependend on mangrove habitats for food aquisition (Nowak, 1999; Strahan, 1995).
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland
Aquatic Biomes: coastal
The false water-rat's diet is very much dependent on its swampy habitat. They appear to feed on small crustaceans such as crabs, marine polyclads, marine pulmonates, shellfish, and worms. In captivity, the false water-rat will eat insects, fish, lizards, crabs that are larger than itself (Nowak, 1999; Van Dyck, 1997; Queensland Museum Explorer, 1999).
Life History and Behavior
Very little is known about the false water-rat's reproductive behavior. It is thought to be in breeding condition throughout the year. Litter size does not exceed 2 (Van Dyck, 1997; Taylor, 1984).
Date Listed: 12/02/1970
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Australia
Population location: Australia
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Xeromys myoides , see its USFWS Species Profile
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Rare(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Rare(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Insufficiently Known(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Insufficiently Known(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
- 1982Insufficiently Known(Thornback and Jenkins 1982)
Since its initial description in 1889, only a very small number of specimens have been collected, mostly since 1970. It is evident that these rats are intimately connected to their mangrove habitat. Habitat distruction due to agriculture, livestock grazing, urbanization, and swamp drainage are considered major threats to the survival of this animal. In addition, off-shore pollution and land reclamation pose a threat to this rare species (Queensland Museum Explorer, 1999; Strahan, 1995; Nowak, 1999).
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
The false water-rat does not appear to negatively effect humans or the economy.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
The false water-rat has no positive economic importance for humans. But by playing a role in maintaining the ecological stability of the marine population it feeds on, it may indirectly effect local marine-related industries.