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Information on Platypus Habitat

Gaynor Borade
The platypus, native to eastern Australia and Tasmania, is regarded as an unlikely animal found on this Earth. The first scientists who discovered it were initially deceived by it as they thought it to be a hoax. The habitat of this distinctive animal along with several interesting facts are best described in this post.

So Much for the Name!

The common name, Platypus, is derived from the Greek words "platus" and "pous", which translates as "flat-footed."

Its scientific name Ornithorhynchus anatinus is derived from ornithorhynkhos, which stands for "bird snout" in Greek, while anatinus means "duck-like" in Latin.
The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a duck-billed, egg-laying, venomous mammal. With the tail of a beaver and the feet of an otter, this creature has always baffled and intrigued naturalists. The venom of the mammal lies in a spur on the hind foot. The venom has the ability to cause severe pain and swelling.
The species Ornithorhynchus anatinus, although listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, is believed to be the sole survivor of the Ornithorhynchidae family. This semi-aquatic mammal is a monotreme that lays eggs instead of giving birth like other mammals.
Today, this mammal is an important part of evolutionary biology and an Australian icon. It not only appears as a mascot alongside other Australian animals at a number of national events, but is also flaunted on the Australian 20 cent coin.
It was extensively hunted in the early 20th century for its fur, but it is now recognized as an endangered species and protected throughout Australia. It is being preserved via dedicated breeding programs. It is highly vulnerable to increase in pollution levels.


  • The platypus is found in Tasmania, the Australian Alps, and in the Arran River near Cooktown. It is found in the tropical forests of eastern Queensland, in New South Wales, and up to the Cape York Peninsula Inland.
  • Its population was introduced on Kangaroo Island, but it is extinct in areas like the Adelaide Hills and Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia, where it previously existed.
  • It is found in the lower Maribyrnong river, but is now absent from the main areas of the Murray-Darling Basin.
  • It is not found much beyond the Great Dividing Range, but is present in eastern, central, and southwestern Victoria. Many efforts were undertaken to introduce it in Western Australia, but it did not work out.


  • Its natural habitat includes freshwater lakes and streams. It prefers a gravely or cobbled stream floor to a sandy one.
  • When on land, this animal makes burrows on the bank of the river or stream to stay in. This burrow can be as long as thirty meters.
  • Females who are taking care of their young ones tend to build longer burrows. This is done to protect their young from the danger of predators.
  • A platypus can also burrow under the roots of nearby trees or hide in the crevices of rocks.
  • This animal is mostly out after twilight and during nighttime. However, it may change its feeding pattern based on aspects like the atmospheric temperature, length of the day, and the abundance or scarcity of food.

Diet and Eating Mechanism

  • The platypus displays a sense of electroreception. It detects its prey via electric fields that are generated around muscular contractions. The electroreceptors in the rostro-caudal rows within the bill and the mechanoreceptors are uniformly distributed.
These receptors create a somatotopic map of varying signal strengths, depending on the distance at which the prey is.
  • It feeds by digging into the stream beds for annelid worms and insect larvae. It also feeds on freshwater shrimp and crayfish. The prey is kept within the cheek-pouches till the mammal reaches a 'feeding surface'. It eats up to 20% of its own body weight each day.


  • The males are usually larger than the females; however, there is a variation in average size that has been observed between regions. Other than the region, it is also known to differ in size due to environmental factors such as human encroachment and a gradual adaptation to deteriorating environmental conditions.


  • Today, the baby platypus is born with three-cusped molars. It loses these during the transition, immediately after leaving the burrow.
  • Research reveals that adults have keratinised pads within the jaw. Their movements are more reptilian, with legs on the sides of the body. This makes them look awkward while walking.

More Facts

Physical Features:

The platypus has a body and tail that are covered with brown fur.
This dense coat protects the animal from extreme cold by trapping insulated air. The main function of the tail is to store fat reserves, just like the Tasmanian Devil and many species of fat-tailed sheep. It has duck-like, webbed feet and a rubbery snout.
The feet are deigned to swim when in water, and the webs fold backward when the mammal walks on land. Its nostrils are located on the snout, as are the eyes and ears.


Male and female platypus have ankle spurs. However, only males produce a venom, comprising mainly defensin-like proteins produced by the immune system. Platypus venom is produced in the crural glands.
The venom is known to kill smaller animals, including dogs. It causes excruciating pain and temporary incapacitation in humans. The development and spread of edema around the wound agitates the condition. Research has attributed the pain to hyperalgesia, which is long-lasting, extending at times to several months.


It procreates in a single breeding season. The species follows a polygynous mating system between June and October each year. Females mature sexually in their second year.
The female, after mating, creates a burrow to safeguard the eggs from tides, predators, and to maintain the required humidity and temperature. The burrow is softened with folded leaves as bedding material that can be easily tucked beneath the female's curled tail.

Survival Features:

It is nocturnal as well as crepuscular. It is an excellent swimmer and is most distinguished by the absence of visible ears. The species is also endothermic. It can maintain a body temperature of approximately 32°C even in waters that are as cold as 5°C.

Affected by:

It is threatened by the fungus Mucor amphibiorum that causes the onslaught of a disease called Mucormycosis. The mammal develops skin lesions on the back, tail, and legs due to it. Death mostly occurs due to secondary infection since the animal is unable to maintain the required body temperature and feed well.