Wildlife - Platypus - Credit: SATC

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Platypus

  • SUMMARY

The Platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. A recognizable and iconic symbol of Australia; it has appeared as a mascot at national events and is featured on the reverse of the Australian 20 cent coin.

Together with the four species of echidna, it is lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young. The body and the broad, flat tail of the Platypus are covered with dense brown fur that traps a layer of insulating air to keep the animal warm. The Platypus uses its tail for storage of fat reserves and it has webbed feet and a large, rubbery snout; these are features that appear closer to those of a duck than to those of any known mammal. The webbing is more significant on the front feet and is folded back when walking on land. Unlike a bird's beak (in which both the upper and lower parts of the beak separate to reveal its mouth), the snout of the Platypus is a sensory organ with the mouth on the underside. The nostrils are located on the dorsal surface of the snout while the eyes and ears are located in a groove set just back from it; this groove is closed when swimming.

Platypuses have been heard to emit a low growl when disturbed and a range of other vocalisations have been reported in captive specimens.