Habitat: Return to Platypus main page
- It is found in Australian fresh water lakes and streams.
- When out of the water the monotreme spends its time in burrows just above the water level, in river or stream banks or under a gathering of tree roots. Its burrow is distinguished by oval sections and it may also have two ends of entry or exit. These burrows can be up to thirty metres long, particularly when the female is nursing her young, an increase in tunnel length is a protection from predators and flooding.
- The platypus is not endangered, but deteriorating water quality in our waterways is adversely affecting its habitat. It is classified as common but vulnerable.
- It is possible platypuses move out of freshwater occasionally as they have been seen in brackish and salt water too.
Social Behaviour: Return to Platypus main page
- Platypusí are solitary animals, but do tend to share small bodies of water.
- Males and females are differentiated by the males having a sharp hollow spur on their hind legs which join to a gland in the groin which produces a venom capable of causing great pain and incapacity in humans and can be lethal to small mammals.
Viewing Opportunities: Return to Platypus main page
- They can be viewed early morning and late afternoon at the Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodge platypus viewing area.
- They can be viewed up stream from the falls besides the walking path at the Malanda Falls Environmental Park.
- Other viewing areas include the bridge over Maroobi Creek, the Petersen Creek viewing area in Yungaburra and in front of the Atherton pump station on crossing road.
Additional Information: Return to Platypus main page
- When the dried skin of a platypus was sent to an English naturalist in 1799, he thought it was a hoax created by a clever taxidermist!
- It has features of both mammals and reptiles. Like mammals, it is covered in fur, produces milk and has a four-chambered heart. Like reptiles, it lays eggs, produces vitamin C in its liver (not kidneys) and has similar kidney bones
- Platypuses once swam around with dinosaurs. In Argentina, fossil remains prove that they existed at the time when the South American and Australian land masses were joined in the super-continent Gondwana. A fossil jaw 110 million years old of a platypus prototype was found in New South Wales. However, this animal was almost twice as big and had teeth unlike the modern version. This was possibly the largest mammal in the world at that time.
- It is readily distinguished from the water rat or other mammals that swim in Australian rivers and streams by its smooth swimming action, low silhouette, absence of visible ears and its rolling dive. A covering of long flattened guard hairs give it a sleek appearance.
- Platypus blood is rich in oxygen-carrying haemoglobin and red blood cells, so it is able to reduce its need for oxygen by reducing its heart rate from more than 200 beats per minute to less than ten.
- Living in captivity, individuals have been recorded to live for up to 17 years, and in the wild, up to at least 13 years.
Additional Information: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey
The males are slightly bigger; however the biggest difference between sexes is a physiological feature that is not obvious at a glance.
Because of this competition, Platypus are basically a solitary animal. However, some may be seen in the same stretch of river where boundaries may overlap considerably, especially of the more tolerant females.
They generally live in a burrow dug into the bank, which is often dug amongst tree roots, with a very tiny entrance just above the water line (Ryan and Burwell 2000).
They can be relatively common in the streams of the tropical rainforest of Australia, but their shyness mean they can be difficult to spot. They seem more common at higher altitudes, such as on the Atherton Tablelands.
Script: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide
Additional Information: Platypus of the Lamington National Park.
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