Backyard Buddies
Platypus

Photo: Matt Chan

Platypus

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The Platypus is brown in colour and quite small. An adult Platypus can be from 45 cm up to 60 cm in length and can weigh up to 2.7 kg.

Male Platypuses have a poisonous spur on the inside of their hind legs. The spur contains a poison that the Platypus uses to defend his territory from other males and enemies.

Platypuses dig two burrows; a nesting and a resting burrow. Burrows can be up to 20 m long. Burrows can be hard to find as the entrances are often underwater or covered by overhanging stream bank vegetation.

Platypuses eat yabbies, fish, worms, water bugs and sometimes small frogs that live in the creeks and streams. Occasionally Platypuses eat insects that fall into the water. They feed early in the morning or late in the afternoon, foraging in the creek-bed for their food.

Platypuses are intriguing animals. They might live right under your nose in a creek or stream near you. If you sit quietly on a creek bank early in the morning or late afternoon you might just see one.

The Platypus is also known as the duck billed Platypus or Ornithorhynchus anatinus. This name comes from the Greek words platys meaning ‘broad and pous meaning ‘foot’.

Platypuses are one of two animals in the world that are known as monotremes. The other is the echidna. Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs.

You can help look after Platypuses

Platypuses are shy creatures and this is how you can protect them in your very own neighbourhood:

Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Platypus is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like the Platypus, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what Platypuses do and do not like.

Platypus love:

Slow flowing water – such as in a series of pools and riffles. A bit of depth – including pools up to 1 to 2m deep, but no deeper than 5 m, with little sand accumulation.

Vegetation – such as plenty of water plants and plants overhanging the stream banks.

Cleanliness – in the form of good water quality.

Somewhere to hide – such as around large woody debris like logs.

But they don’t like:

Predators – including foxes, cats and dogs.

Poor habitats – where stream banks have been eroded and degraded, particularly by livestock.

Pollution – including detergents, fertilizers, pesticides and rubbish in their water.

Be a Platypus buddy

Try to:

Avoid:

Don’t be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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