platypus is one of the strangest animals.
It has a
beak like a duck's,
a tail like a beaver's and feet like an otter's; it is venomous, and it
It has fur like mammals'
lays eggs like reptiles
- no wonder the early European scientists were really scratching their
heads when they first saw one in
It is found only in Australia, more exactly in the eastern Australia,
from Tasmania in the south to the southern end of Cape York peninsula
north, and if you look in the right places you can see it on your trip.
So What Is It?
Well (I can imagine
good few discussions in the old British Association for the Advancement
of Science), it was finally decided that the Australian platypus would
be classified as a mammal and not a reptile.
It was further classified as a monotreme
- an early branch of mammals
(later ones being marsupials and placentals), together with echidna -
the only other egg laying mammal left in the world.
Australian platypus is the
remaining member of its genus (Ornithorhynchus)
and family (Ornithorhynchidae),
but there are fossils of more species that used to exist.
by Nancy Baym via Flickr.com
What Does It Look Like?
is a strange looking
animal with its
large 'bill', fat tail and webbed feet.
They are not that large, up to about
metre in length and they weigh about 2kg.
Where Is It Found?
It has adapted to a whole range of
temperatures from the hot and humid tropical rainforests
northern Australia to the southern cold, Alpine mountain streams of
The animal is actually much more common in the south, but the best places to see them up in
far north Queensland are Atherton
Tablelands and Daintree
by kris.mccracken via Flickr.com
Behaviour and Ecology
nocturnal, but can be seen day time, particularly on an
day as well as at dusk and dawn.
It is a
aquatic animal - it rests in burrows on the land (near the water
surface), and forages in the water, more exactly freshwater streams and rivers.
In the water, it dives
search for food (about half a minute), then
comes to the surface to breathe (10-20 seconds).
It is a meat eater,
eats insects and their larvae, worms, and
small crustaceans such as shrimps and yabbies.
It carries the prey to the surface in its cheek pouches, then eats it
at the surface.
about 12 hours and sleeps
about 12 hours of the day.
from seeing, hearing
and other senses, Australian platypus (and other monontremes), also
have a sense of
When they dive in search for food, they close their nose, ears and
eyes, and rely on
when locating their prey.
The receptors are on its bill, and they let the animal to determine the
direction of and distance to an electric source (electrical currents
created by the movements of the prey).
by belpo via Flickr.com
Mating and Breeding
Both male and female are territorial,
although females have smaller
territories than males.
occurs in the Dry Season
(June to September), and about a month
after mating, the female lays one to three leathery, reptile-like eggs.
Once the eggs
are laid, the
female curls around them, warming them and
inclubating them for about 10 days.
Once they hatch, the young
hairless, blind and fed milk and looked
after by their mother for about 3-4 months.
They can live up to 10-11 years at least (17 in captivity).
by YTK23 via
It is not
as venomous as our
poisonous snakes, not able to kill a human, but it sure is venomous
enough to kill a dog,
and cause a lot of long
lasting pain to a human
It is only the male that
has the venom,
the female does have the glands when born, but they are rudimentary, do
not develop, and drop off within the first year of its life.
Because it's the male, and because the venom increases during the
breeding season, it is believed that its main purpose is the male
competition in reproduction.
by The Eggplant
widely hunted for their
fur until the
early 1900s, when they became protected. They went extinct
Despite the hunt, the fact that they also were caught in inland fishery
nets, and the pollution
streams and waterways, the species does not seem to be
immediate threat of extinction.
While local declines may be less known, the species seems to be
abundant throughout the rest of its original range (except SA).
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and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
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