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Did you know: The Platypus is a Unique Australian Species 🎥🎥

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

Platypus can be found along Australia's eastern coastal areas in small streams, quiet rivers and bodies of freshwater. Along with echidnas, platypuses are grouped in a separate order of mammals known as monotremes, which are distinguished from all other mammals because they lay eggs.

The platypus is a small, dark-brown, furry animal with a duck-like beak. The species lives in burrows which it digs into the banks of rivers; it can dive and stay underwater for up to fifteen minutes. Unlike a duck’s beak, the platypus’ beak is rubbery and flexible with hundreds of electroreceptor cells inside it, which can detect the electrical currents that are caused by its prey swimming through the water. The main food sources are insect larvae along with shrimps, water bugs, tadpoles, sometimes freshwater mussels and snails.

Swimming platypus Broken River, Queensland (Wikimedia Commons)

When first discovered, the unusual look of a platypus caused considerable confusion and doubt amongst European scientists and naturalists, many of whom believed that the animal was a fake. (more information in the following You Tube clip)

Platypus are mainly active from twilight into the night, whereas during the day individuals shelter in a short burrow. They are shy animals and therefore their activity patterns are set by a number of factors such as locality, ambient temperatures, lengths of the day, food availability and of course, human activity.

Males are larger than females and can be over 60 cm long. In addition, males possess a horny spur on their ankles, which is connected to a venom gland in the upper leg and therefore making the platypus one of the few venomous mammals.

The calcaneus spur found on the male's hind limb is used to deliver venom (Wikipedia, for reuse)

Females usually do not breed until they are around 4 years old. They lay 1 to 3 eggs after mating with a 21-day gestation period followed by the incubation of up to 10 days. It takes 3 - 4 months before the young emerge from the burrow. Platypuses are long-lived animals, both in captivity and in the wild, living up to approximately 20 years.

Fortunately the platypus is protected by legislation in all of the states it occurs in Australia (including Tasmania). However, there is a general lack of knowledge of the species abundance at local catchment levels to support accurate predictions of population trends. The platypus solely depends on the established freshwater systems and may face decline with the continuation of development, deforestation and human interaction in this country, where far to often conservation issues are neglected.

Please take the time to watch the following two short but interesting and informative videos. Thank you!

🎥 Watch National Geographic Video Platypus (3:43)

The platypus is a strange mix of different traits, including a venomous spur used in male to male combat.

🎥 Watch Planet Doc Documentaries, 2016 (5:10)

For more detailed information we refer to Wikipedia


Australian Museum, 2018 (viewed 14.10.2018)


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