Platypus -The unique, Australian mammal


Platypus The unique,Australian mammal


Platypus is an endemic Australian mammal found throughout Tasmania, New South Wales, and Queensland to the far north Cooktown and Victoria. They are semi-aquatic mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to young ones. Platypus is monotreme, i.e., they urinate, reproduce, and excrete through one opening. Their lifespan is 12-20 years.

They have a sensitive, duck-shaped bill that is moist and leathery. Their teeth are tiny and are at the back of the jaws, however, they become toothless with maturity. Their fur is hydrophilic and helps keep them warm. Male platypuses are darker than female platypus’, who have a reddish tinge.

Their tail has brittle fur, and their eyes are smaller. Platypus’ do not have externals ears. When they are in the water, their eyes and ears submerge, which leads them to deaf and blind while diving into the water. Their feet are webbed with claws that help them maintain balance in the water and dig burrows.

Platypus-The unique, Australian mammal

Weight-wise, the male is heavier than the female and the average weight of the platypus ranges from 0.7-2.4kg. The length of a male platypus is 20 inches, and the weight of the female platypus is 17 inches.

Diet, habitat, Behaviour and mating:

Diet: The platypus is a carnivorous animal. Their diet includes annelid worms, freshwater shrimp, insect larvae, and freshwater yabby. The requirements are that the amount of the food they intake needs to be equivalent to 20% of its own weight. That means to fulfill the demand, they must spend about 12 hours hunting for food. Platypus’ carry their food to the surface in their cheek-pouches.

Platypus-The unique,Australian mammal

Habitat/behaviour: Platypuses are solitary, nocturnal animals that spend much time more time in the water. They do not visit the land that often. Platypus’ waddle onto the banks of the river, digging burrows where they live. They also live under roots, debris, or rock ledges. 

Mating: Platypuses have multiple partners, i.e. they are polygamous. Female’s mate between the ages of 2-5 and lays 1-2 eggs. Eggs hatch in about 10 days. The female keeps the eggs warm by keeping the eggs between her tail and rump. The young stay in the burrow until they assume about 80% of their adult weight which takes about 6 months to do so. Platypus’ breeding season is between in Winter, i.e., June and October.

Predators: Snakes, goannas, water rats, Hawks, Eagles, and foxes.

Threats and Conservation efforts:

Threats: The Platypus is facing threats, including the major threat of habitat loss because of land loss and water pollution.Platypus-The unique, Australian mammal

The largest threat is a loss of habitat because of land clearance and water pollution. The IUCN lists the Platypus as a ‘Least Concern’. However, there is no available data on the number of Platypus’ in the wild.

Conservation efforts: The Australian Platypus Conservancy is a non-profit environmental organization that aims at conserving the platypus populations and its freshwater habitats. It works with businesses and organizations to make initiatives that support the platypus’ and their habitats. The Australian Platypus Conservancy has established initiatives like the Australian Platypus Monitoring Network, and Platypus Flows Requirements. They also aim at reducing platypus deaths in Yabby traps, and Community Monitoring of the Australian Water Rat and Platypus.

Author Neel

Platypus-The unique, Australian mammal


Platypus-The unique,Australian mammal

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