The Platypus is a unique Australian species. 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. When first discovered, the amphibious platypus with a duck-like bill, webbed feet and a broad, flattened tail caused considerable confusion and doubt amongst European naturalists and scientists, many of whom believed that the animal was a fake.
The platypus is generally found in permanent river systems and lakes in southern and eastern NSW and east and west of the Great Dividing Range.
They are active all year round, but mostly during twilight and in the night. During day, individuals shelter in a short burrow in bank. The activity patterns of these animals are determined by a number of factors including: locality, human activity, ambient temperatures, and day length and food availability.
We went to Eungella National Park, approximately a one hour drive west of Mackay, which is home to one of the most reliable spots in Australia to spot the elusive platypus – in the wild! Eungella National Park is Australia’s largest continuous stretch of sub-tropical rainforest and is one of the most beautiful of Queensland National Parks. From the viewing decks at Broken River, you can spot this shy creature in its natural habitat, as well as turtles and other wildlife in this beautiful National Park
Shy by nature and mainly nocturnal, you’re most likely to catch a glimpse of a platypus in the early morning or late evening as they dive for food, using their sensitive bill to detect larvae and insects.
Diet of the Platypus consists mainly of the benthic invertebrates, particularly the insect larvae. The species also feeds on free-swimming organisms: shrimps, swimming beetles, water bugs and tadpoles, and at times worms, freshwater pea mussels and snails. Occasionally the animals catch cicadas and moths from the water surface.
Young Platypuses do not seem to reproduce in their first year of life, instead, both sexes become reproductive in their second year. Still, many females do not breed until they are at least 4 years old. After mating, a female will lay 1-3 eggs following a 21-days gestation period. She then incubates the eggs for possibly 10 days, after which the lactation period lasts for 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.