Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) are one of Tasmania’s most unique animals and are common in the lakes and rivers of the Central Highlands. Along with Echidnas they are the only monotremes (mammals that lay eggs) in the world. They have a duck-like bill, wide tail, webbed feet and brown fur over their body. They have small eyes but keen sight and hearing when above ground. Underwater they use a sixth sense called electroreception to detect changes in the electrical fields similar to dolphins, sharks and bees. Tasmanian Platypus are much bigger than those on the mainland which males measuring up to 60 cms in length and weighing in at 3 kgs. The males have venomous spurs on their hind legs and the venom is strong enough to kill a dog and severely hurt a human. Platypus are semi-aquatic and are most often sighted from the evening to the early morning when they surface for air while out diving for food. Their diet consists mainly of crustaceans, worms and insect larvae, which they grind up before eating, as they do not have teeth. The Platypus spends the daylight hours in burrows that they dig into banks, often having several burrows in their territory including elaborate nesting burrows. Mating takes place during spring and after a short gestation period of around 3 weeks up to 3 eggs are laid. These are incubated by the mother and hatch around 10 days later. After a further 6 weeks they begin to leave the burrow. It is a common misconception that a baby platypus is called a puggle, however this is incorrect and there is no official name. 

Photo credit: Klaus (no last name)

Photo credit: Klaus (no last name)