The platypus belongs to the Monotreme family, meaning they are an egg-laying mammal. Their closest living relative is the Echidna. Fossil evidence of the platypus is up to 130 million years old.
The platypus lives along the eastern coast of Australia, including Tasmania. They can be found in freshwater streams, creeks and rivers. They are most active at dawn and dusk, although this can be influenced by breeding, water temperature, human activity and food resources. Therefore, this animal’s activities can be known as diurnal (day time activity), nocturnal (night time activity) or crepuscular (dawn and dusk activity).
Platypus feed on freshwater crayfish, small fish and aquatic invertebrates. The platypus has an extremely sensitive bill and uses electro-location to locate their food, via water movement or signals sent by their prey.
When not in the water, platypus will move into a secure burrow via a tunnel. Burrows provide excellent security for nesting as well as the birth and growth of young.
Male platypus have a large, venomous spur located on each back foot. This is used to defend their territory during breeding season and can cause extreme pain, or even death, of an opponent.
Wild platypus numbers remain stable, although they do face various threats. These include drowning in illegal yabbie traps and net, entanglement in fishing line, and litter-related death or injury.
An easy way you can help a platypus and other aquatic animals is to throw all rubbish in a bin, before it reaches waterways.
See our two platypus in action during our daily keeper talk at 2:30pm.