Platypus - Mosman, NSW

Platypus

When the first stuffed specimen of a duck-billed platypus was exhibited abroad even the scientific men of the day in Great Britain and Europe thought it was a fraud which some practical joker had managed to make lifelike by fastening together the parts of several animals and birds. This is scarcely to be wondered at, for an adult platypus has a duck's bill, a furred body, and four webbed-metres with claws. But even more remarkable than any other characteristic of the platypus is the fact that it lays eggs, yet suckles its young. As if to add to its paradoxical make-up, its eggs, which are round and parchment coloured, resemble in character those of the reptiles.

The platypus, which is about 480 mm in length, is found in almost all parts of eastern Australia including Tasmania, and inhabits a wide range of waters, from the cold streams of the Kosciusko tableland to the warm Queensland rivers. It is an expert swimmer and is able to stay under water for as long as three minutes before coming up to breathe. Out of its five senses serviceable above water, four are completely dispensed with below, and the platypus relies entirely on the sensitive touch of its bill to secure its food in the muddy bottom of a river or creek. The appetite of the adult platypus is enormous; its food consisting chiefly of small molluses, worms, and insects.

The coat of the platypus, which is rich brown in colour and beautifully soft, would make an extremely valuable fur if marketed. The animal, however, is strictly protected by law, and its fur is not therefore an article of commerce.

Contact Details

Location

Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head Rd.,
Mosman, NSW, 2088