A brief viewing of a Platypus

During a very brief visit last week to the Maleny Boardwalk section of the Maleny Trail, we decide to take a gentle stroll and head out to the Platypus viewing area of the walk. We parked in the parking area at the shops and headed along the Boardwalk. Some café patrons were watching something in the Creek. Curious, we peeped over the railings.

Looking down into the Obi Obi Creek that flows parallel to the Boardwalk, one can see patches of water plants in the relatively clear water. Not much else was visible from where we were, so we continued along further until we were outside the café. And there it was!

A Platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, was foraging for food along the bottom of the creek and suddenly emerged for air, allowing an opportunity for a photo!

Platypus are very unusual creatures having what resembles a beaver’s tail, a duck bill and webbed feet. They are monotremes, that is egg laying mammals. Both male and female platypus have ankle spurs on their hind legs, but the spurs of the male platypus contain venom.

Platypus diving back down to the bottom of the creek

A little further along the boardwalk we spotted another Platypus moving quite rapidly, skimming the surface of the water.

The eyes and ears of the Platypus are in a groove which is closed during swimming and foraging. In order to locate food, Platypus rely on ‘electroreception’ (detection of tiny electro currents) to locate prey. The following photo, although not too clear because of the water and the distance to the Platypus from the boardwalk, shows the location of the eyes and ears in the groove. The nostrils can also be seen on the beak.

Sadly, due to habitat destruction, the Platypus is now considered to be a threatened species.

As we meandered further along the Trail, the heavens opened, curtailing the rest of our walk. We did not make it to the two Platypus viewing platforms that are further along the Trail, but considered ourselves extremely lucky to have spotted these very unusual creatures before the rain arrived.

References:

For those interested, the following two reference provide further information on both the Platypus and the Maleny Trail.

Platypus – Wikipedia

The Maleny Trail | Maleny and Hinterland Trails (malenytrails.com.au)

13 comments

  1. Wow what thrilling sightings! I love the photos and interesting to see the one propelling itself so effectively across the surface of the water. Thanks too for the fascinating anatomical and foraging information. They almost could be some kind of evolutionary ‘missing link’ between mammals and birds! Sad that they are so endangered but I hope at least there are some protected populations.

    • We were thrilled to see them! Did you notice that the swimming platypus has an small injury on his tail? I was told that it probably was injured in a fight with another platypus. I learnt a lot about these creatures too, and I think they are fascinating! This group of platypus are protected by the community and have become a tourist attraction. We will definitely go back to complete the walk and hopefully we will see more platypus.

      • No I didn’t notice the tail injury. Sounds like their fights can be quite serious. What an event that would be to behold!
        It is great that the platypuses are so well protected on this stretch of water. I hope that you see them again when you revisit.

  2. What a fascinating animal! Australia is a wonderland of unique creatures. Love seeing the photos.

  3. How lucky you were to have such a good view. We have waited for ages in various places over the years and only ever had a very brief glimpse of one. Lovely photos

  4. Very interesting creature. I didn’t know about the venom or electroreception. Thank you for sharing this info. and photos!

    • They re very unusual creatures! I was so excited when I saw them. Their characteristics are really amazing!
      P.s. on our walk this afternoon we saw an Echidna at the edge of the Forest. They are amazing little creatures too. Unfortunately I could only see the spines on its back from where I was, so sadly no clear photos of it.

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