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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

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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