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Is your legacy that you lived and enjoyed nature, or lived and cared for nature? 

Is your legacy that you lived and enjoyed nature, or lived and cared for nature? 

Hobart Rivulet Platypus Frequently Asked Questions

The Platypus Guardian documentary raised the profile of Hobart’s urban platypus population, but there are better places in Tasmania to see platypuses.

By ‘better’ we mean places where you are far more likely to see a platypus, and more importantly, places where the platypus population are less stressed by human disturbance i.e. urbanization, pollution and habitat destruction. Please consider spreading the platypus love across Tasmania.

The North West corner of Tasmania is a platypus stronghold, with the local towns of Deloraine and Latrobe rightly vying to be the platypus capital of Australia.

Our top locations to see platypus in the wild in Tasmania include:

If you’re visiting Southern Tasmania we recommend:

  • Platypus Walk, Geeveston
  • Tyenna River, Westerway
  • Salmon Ponds, Plenty 

Still stuck on the idea of seeing a platypus in Hobart? Walk from the CBD to Cascade Gardens along the Rivulet Cycling and Walking trail. Keep your eye on the waterway. You might see a Hobart Rivulet platypus. Along the way, take a short detour to visit the community funded platypus mural on Wynyard St, South Hobart. There’s a platypus there 24/7, and GREAT coffee at Bear with me cafe.

Indigenous names for platypus include: Larila, Mallangong, Mallunggang, Tambreet, Billadurong, Tohunbuck, Gaya-dari, Boonaburra

Ornithorhynchus anatinus, the scientific name for a platypus, means: Bird-like, duck-like. Not what you were expecting hey!

Broad, flat feet. 

Tasmanian platypus make their own rules, and are often seen during the day.

This could possibly be due to the relative lack of predators compared to the mainland e.g. there are no foxes in Tasmania.

It could also be climate based, with lower temperatures in Tasmania creating higher energy requirements i.e. extended foraging 

Some Tassie platypuses forage throughout the day, others forage throughout the night. Some are in sync with the cycle of the moon, others seemingly ignore it. Some come and go like clockwork every day, others not. And their schedule can change at any time!

Basically, with the exception of a hot Summer’s day, any time of the day is a good time of day to see a platypus in Tasmania.

Like people, the longer you spend with platypuses, the more you appreciate how different each platypus is. Unlike people however, identifying a platypus can often require close up images and slow motion video – even when relatively close to the animal. Clues we rely on include:

  • Overall coloring (brown fur/orange eye patch- grey fur/pale eye patch)
  • Indents, markings on upper bill
  • Eye patch shape and color variations
  • Face mask variations
  • Shield variations
  • Pigmentation patterns on lower bill
  • Pigmentation variations on legs and webbing
  • Presence of spurs & spur characteristics
  • Location
  • Behaviour
  • Size
  • Body proportions

Generally yes!

Platypus have instincts honed over millions of years when it comes to dealing with ever changing waterways. Like humans though, occasionally when caught in floods platypus may drown, become injured or displaced. Research has shown less experienced, weaker animals such as juveniles are more at risk.

It’s not uncommon to see adult platypuses out in flooding waterways using the current to their benefit e.g. accessing new food sources, using the current to facilitate foraging.

Arguably, the main risk to platypus during and after flood is entanglement in our rubbish.

Fresh platypus poo looks like black mousse/soft serve ice cream but is tacky like hot tar. It also smells… a lot!

It’s almost impossible to know exactly how many platypus are in any waterway – unless there are none. Based on our monitoring of Hobart’s urban platypus population over the last three years we would say low to mid double digits feels about right.

Platypus sometimes make a low electronic growl when distressed, but otherwise live in silence.

In wild nature, it’s believed platypuses live on average 7-14 years. In urban areas it has been reported their life expectancy decreases to 6-7 years.

In February 2024, a tagged 24 year old male platypus was found in a Melbourne creek – the oldest-known wild platypus!

The oldest platypus on record is Fleay, who turned 30 in October 2023. She was rescued as a nestling and has lived in captivity ever since at Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Australia.

In a linear environment (along a waterway like the Hobart Rivulet) the length of a platypus’s territory AKA home range varies, largely dependent on food resources.

A dominant male’s territory can be up to 1okm long. It generally contains several female territories. Male territories are less likely to overlap vs females.

The fur on a platypus’s body is incredibly soft. The fur on its tail though is more like a wire broom. Platypus molt annually, following the breeding season.

Some time ago a news web site reported platypus do not have a stomach. Other sites soon repeated the claim. It was a case of fake news! Platypus do indeed have a stomach, just different to ours.

From the tip of bill to tip of tail, platypus are between 40cm – 63cm long. They weigh between 0.8-3.0 kg. Males are ~25% larger than females.

The 10m x 3m platypus mural, painted by renowned contemporary Australian artist Jimmy Dvate is located on the corner of Macquarie & Wynyard Streets, South Hobart.

Platypuses or platypus. Platypi is often incorrectly used. Platypodes is the most correct plural but its use has never gained popularity.

Nestling is probably the most accurate name for a baby platypus. Puggle however is commonly used, after Taronga Zoo staff in 2003 suggested the name given to baby echidnas could also be used. Platypups has also been put forward.

Yes platypus hold their breath underwater. Occasionally they release a small amount of air from their nostrils, but generally the trail of bubbles you see on the surface is air escaping from the platypus’s fur.

Platypus are carnivorous, and are regarded as the apex predator of their world. They spend 12-16 hours each day foraging, dining mostly on water bugs but will also eat worms and yabbies.

Platypus generally eat 13-28% of their body weight every day. That may even increase to 100% for a lactating female.

Platypus in Tasmania weigh up to 3x more than platypus on mainland Australia. One possible explanation is that the colder the climate, the greater the thermal mass needed to efficiently maintain body temperature.

While foraging, platypus typically stay underwater for 1-2 minutes. When threatened platypuses are able to stay underwater for up to 10 mins. This is achieved by wedging their body under a submerged log, overhang etc and slowing their heartbeat to 10 bpm or less.

Platypus and echidna are both monotremes. Monotremata means ‘one-holed’ in Greek, referring to the single duct (cloaca) used by animal’s urinary, defecatory, and reproductive systems.

Platypus are perfectly adapted to their cool world of waterways and burrows. They are however unable to sweat, and are prone to heat stress in temperatures 25 degrees celsius or higher. 

No. Platypus can tolerate significant levels of pollution.

Platypus are able to maintain a constant body temperature, even after spending many hours in water close to zero degrees celsius.

  • Platypus have a lower body temperature than humans
  • Platypus fur is more efficient than even polar bear fur, trapping a layer of air between the animal’s body and the water.
  • A dynamic metabolism that constantly balances energy in with energy out.
  • A ‘miraculous network’ that warms blood returning from extremities using blood leaving the core.

Yes and No. Nestlings do have teeth that fall out before they emerge from the nesting burrow. Juvenile and adult platypus instead have grinding plates, which are far more practical in their world.

A nesting female lays 1-3 eggs.

The bill of a platypus is rubbery. Squeeze your ear lobe. It feels like that, but a little firmer.

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