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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Munro
Wild Watch Australia guiding service

Platypus:  Ornithorhynchus anatinus

  • The platypus  is considered to be one of the world's most unusual animals. It is often described as a living fossil - a furry, warm-blooded, egg-laying mammal which retains some features of reptiles. (Australian Platypus Conservancy)

  • These are an egg laying mammal (monotreme) which are unmistakable out of water.

  • When swimming they are distinguished from other Australian mammals by the absence of visible ears.

  • Most frequently seen at mid-distance in poor light. Dawn or Dusk.

  • Have webbed forefeet which aid in swimming and although the hind feet are also webbed, these are folded back against the tail, except when used for steering and as brakes.

  • The platypus is quite motile on land, but due to the webbing of the forefoot which extends beyond the toes, it carries itself on its knuckles

  • The fur is fine and dense with about eight hundred hairs per square millimetre. There are two layers, a woolly undercoat and a long guard fur on top of that. Together, these two layers trap air, therefore keeping the monotreme dry even after long periods of being under water.

  • The fur on the tail is coarser, bristly, and often a darker brown than the body fur. The burrowing action makes the tail fur more ragged and worn. 

  • The flat tail is used as a stabiliser during swimming as well as enabling quick diving. many platypus have a fine layer of hair under the tail.  This can be quite thick in the case of juveniles or in the period after adults have completed their moult.

  • The size of the platypus varies with location.


General Information

Historical Background and Naming

Distribution and Status

Life in the Water

Australian Water-Rat


Matters of Life and Death

Platypus Behaviour

Platypus Burrows

Platypus in Urban Areas

Platypus in Country Areas

Information On The Australian Platypus Conservancy
Platypus of the Lamington National Park.

Additional Platypus Photos
Additional Platypus Photos 2

Additional Platypus Photos 3
Platypus Close-up Photo
Platypus Habitat Photos



Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
PH & Fax: 07 4095 3754 International: 61 7 4095 3754

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