Inspired by Steve Irwin's passion for wildlife and environmental conservation, Alana dons her akubra and becomes the Platypus Hunter. The Platypus Hunter advances awareness for ecological protection by documenting one of Mother Nature's more peculiar creations.
The 'Impossible' Platypus
It is a chilly October morning in Australia's Eungella National Park. "Fantastic!" whispers the Platypus Hunter in restrained excitement as a solitary platypus swims by on the river's surface. Alana is thrilled because platypus are difficult animals to spot in the wild. Platypus are shy and have nocturnal habits. Throughout Alana's travels, she has visited areas home to platypus and has learned of local conservation efforts. Alana shares her platypus encounters through pictures and video. Visit the related links section (right) to learn more about these fantastic creatures.
Alana's Guide to Platypus Spotting
The first step in spotting platypus is to make sure you are in Australia. Australia is the only place in the world where platypus live in the wild. They make their homes near freshwater rivers and lakes in cooler climates (e.g. not the outback). Some of Alana's favorite platypus hunting grounds include Eungella National Park, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, and the wetlands surrounding Bombala.
Upon arriving in platypus country, Alana looks for places where she is most likely to see activity. Platypus burrow deep into the shoreline and prefer to live away from human activity and noise. Trees, grass, and bush are signs of terrain protected from erosion by a healthy root system.
After finding a promising spot, the Platypus Hunter suggests getting to bed early.
Platypus are most visible while feeding which is done primarily in the morning before sunrise and in the evening after sunset. While you might see platypus hanging out in the daytime, odds are best early or late in the day.
Platypus are rather awkward on the ground and favour the water, however, you may see one climb onto the odd log for a rest. For the most part, be prepared to see their top-side as they swim and dive into the water for food. They nudge their bills around in the silt looking for crustaceans. They can hold their breath for up to ten minutes and travel a large distance underwater. If the water is clear then you are in luck otherwise you will have to guess where they may pop up next.
For those who don't want to go to all that trouble, there is always the zoo.
Platypus are rarely found in zoos because they are extremely difficult to raise in captivity. Healesville Sanctuary first bread platypus successfully in 1943 and now runs a massive platypusarium. Other places where you can easily spot platypus include Sydney's Taronga Zoo and the Sydney Aquarium.
Platypus are currently not on the endangered list thanks to local legislation aimed at protecting this unique creature. Platypus population has been on the rise, however, is still threatened by human activity, namely water pollution and riverbank erosion. Their largest natural predator is the fox, which is a non-native animal introduced to Australia.