It wasn’t by accident that we spotted this platypus one dark morning in Queensland, Australia. Over ten years earlier on a trip Down Under we had spent many hours searching after consulting with local rangers, and came up with a fun adventure, but not a “plattie.”
So this second trip we budgeted for a guide and asked him where we could find a playtpus, and he led us right to it. Here’s a link to a post I wrote last year about how we eventually found this delightful monotreme (egg-laying mammal).
Ornithorhynchus anatinus lives on the eastern coast of Australia and in Tasmania, and although its conservation status is “Least Concern,” many natives and visitors have never seen one. They like quiet, cool, and dark conditions, and spend most of their time under water or in riverside burrows. With their duck-like bill and beaver tail, platypus hunt for freshwater shrimp and insect larvae, utilizing special electrolocation sensors in their bill.
For defense, the males have an ankle spur that releases venom that is strong enough to kill a dog and impair a human. But that wasn’t a problem for us that day. I still smile as I think about us trundling alongside that river in the rain and dark dawn, hoping to see the playtpus. And when we did, it was all I could do to suppress the urge to howl with happiness.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander