Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Platypus might just be the most interesting animals in Australia. Everyone loves them and yet few people actually get to see one in the wild. So where do they live and why aren't there many of them? This blog talks about the fascinating platypus and their lives along the Mitta Mitta River. Guess what we have a few who live in the Mitta Mitta River, so you might be lucky enough to see one when you least expect it.
3 Fun Facts about Platypus
The platypus is one of the most unique animals in the world.
Fact one - They are mammals, yet they lay eggs like birds.
Fact two - They are carnivores, yet they have no teeth.
Fact three - They are venomous.
They are the makings of a good old fashioned campfire riddle. “Who am I? - I am a mammal but I lay eggs”. Try it on your next camping trip. To this riddle, someone could answer echidna and they would also be correct.
Where can I see a Platypus in the wild?
Platypus are found in the rivers of eastern Australia. They can be anywhere from Queensland to Tassie, in warmer or cooler rivers.
They are nocturnal, so you are less likely to see one during the day. They are aquatic, so they are most active in the water.
If you are lucky enough to see one in the wild, you will be able to tell it is a platypus because of its distinctive bill, broad tail, broad feet, and its fur.
Tips on how to see a Platypus in the Mitta Mitta River?
Be quiet! If you are out during the day the platypus are trying to rest. They won't like you being noisy, and this will disturb them.
Go out looking in a smaller group. This will reduce the noise factor. Make sure everyone is on the same page, no music, and speak quietly.
Stay in one place in calmer sections of a river, near eddies. Platypus hang out in these areas as they can stay in one spot and not fight a river current whilst they sleep. This is where they like to nest.
During the day it will be easier to see them, as they will be in the one spot and sleeping. They normally wake up and start looking for their food in the sunset hours.
Platypus are very dark and can blend into the rivers water and rocks. So you will need a sharp eye to see the changes in the water.
Platypus spotted in the Mitta Mitta River
Four male platypuses in the lower Mitta Mitta River were trapped downstream of the Dartmouth Dam wall and their activities were monitored. To monitor their movement they implanted acoustic transmitters.
25 acoustic receivers were then deployed along a 27 km stretch of river. We need to be able to track animals so we can learn about them. We can do this by studying their movements. This will help us protect them.
The platypus were continuously tracked over a 12 month period to study the movement and activity of platypus on regulated rivers.
There are a lot of platypus in the upper reaches of the Mitta Mitta river and its tributaries. So stay on the lookout as you float, as they disappear quickly.
6 facts about Platypus in the Mitta Mitta River in 2021
Platypus are territorial especially in late winter is when males can become territorial in the breeding season with increased testosterone and aggression.
There is overlap between male and female home ranges, reflecting their polygamous mating system.
Platypus become more active within 3 hours after sunset, are most active at night and feed exclusively on freshwater bugs (macroinvertebrates).
The daily average range of the four male platypus that were tracked was 1.84 – 8.45 kms of river. The platypus’ range higher over June, July and August due to scarcity of food.
Over 12 months the four males travelled 779.14 kms.
How far does a Platypus travel?
In the study of the platypus in the Mitta Mitta River, ranges were restricted because of dam walls impacting the dispersal of young males.
This in turn has implications for declining populations as young males cannot supplement declines or extinctions due to not being able to migrate.
The studies of these platypuses showed that their movements were relatively localised, and they stayed within a few kilometres of their original tagging location.
So if you know where there were originally seen, chances are this is a good place to start looking.
Why is it rare to see a Platypus in the wild?
It's become increasingly rare to see platypus in their natural habitat. Although they used to be widespread, the platypus is now listed as vulnerable (not yet on the endangered list), and it is increasingly rare to see one in the wild.
There are several factors that have contributed to the decline, including drought, human activity and introduced species such as wild cats and dogs.
What should I do if I see a Platypus?
Don’t touch them, or go up to them. This is their home, and we want them to feel safe.
Don’t try to feed them. They will have their own food, and it won’t be what you're eating. Remember feeding any wild animal is never advised as it interferes with the ecosystem.
If you are in the river, try to stay as far away from the platypus as possible, as not to bother them.
Platypus are rarely seen in the wild. You can help save the platypus by reporting your sightings. The platypus is a protected species in Australia, and sightings are important to ecologists and researchers. They will appreciate you reporting their whereabouts, especially if you see them in an unexpected location.
Next time you see a platypus, you can help by reporting your sightings here:
You might be lucky enough to spot a platypus but if not, you can always go for a hike and see the beautiful wilderness or a paddle down the river. We hope you enjoyed our blog about platypus in the Mitta Mitta river and surrounding areas.
If you didn’t know, platypus are one of the world’s most unique creatures. So if you’re ever near the Mitta Mitta river, make sure to stop by and try your luck at seeing one.
Link to the full scientific report in Nature.com: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-81142-6?proof=t
For more information about the Mitta Mitta River, contact us at Friends Of The Mitta.
Friends Of The Mitta c/o Jeffe Aronson 124 Callaghans Rd Anglers Rest, Victoria 3898
03 5159 7252
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This blog article was co-written with Gem Black