Get to Know More About the Weird and Wonderful Platypus

The Platypus is a strange creature, with the body of a mammal and the beak of a large duck. Native to certain parts of Australia and Tasmania, they have an intrigue that spans the world but live fairly humble lives.

Because of their predominantly nocturnal lifestyle and their fondness of water, platypuses are much more difficult to spot that some of Australia’s other native wildlife. However, there are numerous places you can go where there’s a high chance you’ll spot one of these funny little creatures.

The Atherton Tablelands are the most likely place, in Yungaburra and in Paluma National Park in North Queensland. You have to look pretty hard as they are good at hiding away from prying eyes. The best times to catch a glimpse is at sunrise, when they’re just finishing up their hunting for the night, or at sunset, when they’re just emerging – look out for ripples on the surface of water.

Facts about the Platypus

As you can imagine, these quirky little creatures have some quirky characteristics.

Though they are considered mammals, they don’t give birth to live young like most other animals in this category. Instead, they lay eggs similarly to a reptile. They are, in fact, monotremes, which is a sub-section of primitive mammals, and they share these unique birthing characteristics with echidnas (also known as spiny anteaters).

A platypus body is well-made for its habitat and lifestyle. They spend most of their waking hours submerged in water, hunting for food. Because of this, their front feet have a layer of extra skin which acts as a rudder. When they reach land, this flappy excess skin curls back to reveal their claws.

Their skin is also completely waterproof, even over their ears and eyes so they can comfortably navigate murky waters. When submerged, their noses seal shut but they can’t stay underwater for too long – usually, they’ll need to break the surface for air every minute or so.

Now let’s talk about their weird bills. Often, platypus are called duck-billed platypus thanks to their flexible, rubbery bill. It’s actually a very important part of their body (if not the most important) because it helps them navigate and seek out food underwater.

When they’re not exploring the underwater world and hunting, platypus dig intricate burrows that feature separate rooms, tunnels, and chambers – pretty impressive, right? As well as burrowing underground, platypuses also set up home under rock ledges and beneath overgrown tree roots – basically anywhere dark and out of sight.

See the Platypus on our 1 Day Atherton Tablelands Tour.

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