Platypus

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Ornithorhynchus anatinus

Identification:

Body length 370 mm, tail length 130 mm. Luxuriously dense fur; tan brown above, lighter gold-brown on belly. Flattened, duck-like bill; webbed feet. Male has venom-delivering spur on hind foot.

Habitat and Range:

Freshwater (occasionally brackish) streams, some dams and lakes. Common in outer Brisbane, but secretive and seldom seen. Coastal Australia from Cooktown, Qld, to Vic. and throughout Tas.

Notes:

When swimming, Platypus looks similar to the Water Rat but lacks visible ears and a white-tipped tail. Active at dawn and dusk, or, all day if overcast. Eats mostly larval and adult aquatic invertebrates. Breeds July-August; its 2 eggs hatch after 10 days incubation; young are weaned at 3-4 months.

Threats:

Set fishing nets, dogs, foxes, chemical pollution, dredging, dams.

Traces:

An elliptical burrow entrance (75 mm X 100-125 mm) just above water level and among tree roots.

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