It’s Platypus Month — Let’s Save This Iconic Species!

Jul 29, 2022by Olivia - F&F

Happy Platypus Month! This August, let’s celebrate this unique, egg-laying mammal and support national initiatives to reintroduce the platypus in their natural habitats.

Platypus Swimming in WaterPlatypus Swimming in Water

Image: Frank Fitchmuller / Canva 

Why Is Platypus Month Celebrated In August?

Are you curious as to why Platypus Month is celebrated in August? Well, in Australia, the end of winter is typically the best time to catch a glimpse of platypus as they forage for food and seek out a mate. 

That’s why the Australian Platypus Conservancy is urging all Australians to Report a Platypus Sighting to help build a better understanding of the status, distribution and conservation needs of these animals! Or, you can submit your platypus sighting through ACT Waterwatch.

So, why do we need to report any platypus sightings? According to ACT Senior Ranger, Michael Maconachie, “seeing platypus around gives you an idea of the health of the river system and the water quality that we have, and to have an animal like that in the middle of the city is pretty amazing.”

Swimming PlatypusSwimming Platypus

Image: Ellgeemac / Canva

The Platypus Is One Of The World’s Only Egg-Laying Mammals

The platypus is one of Australia’s most iconic native animals! This duck-billed, flat-tailed mammal is incredibly unique for a number of reasons. This semi-aquatic animal is a Monotreme Mammal. The other two classes of Mammals — Placentals and Marsupials — reproduce through live births. 

The platypus is essentially one of two egg-laying mammalian species, the other being the echidna! The only place on Earth to find Monotremes is Australia and New Guinea. Platypuses lay eggs and feed milk to their babies, which are called puggles. Cute, right? 

These carnivorous, nocturnal mammals are also venomous! The males have a venom-secreting gland which is connected to a spur on their hind foot.

Platypus on River BankPlatypus on River Bank

Image: Phototrip / Canva

Are Platypus Numbers Declining? 

It’s a question that has stumped researchers for decades: are wild platypus numbers declining in Australia? Platypuses are elusive, skittish, and nocturnal. They’re difficult to see, and even more difficult to monitor!

Sadly, new evidence is suggesting that platypus numbers are declining throughout Australia. According to WWF-Australia, around the Murray-Darling Basin, platypus populations may have declined by almost 31% over the past three decades. In Melbourne’s urban waterways, platypus populations have decreased by as much as 65%.

Researchers have analysed platypus populations in the Greater Brisbane area, and found that 5 major waterways were devoid of platypuses. In Kedron Brook, the last confirmed platypus sighting was in 2002. It’s a scary thought.

WWF Australia Adopt A PlatypusWWF Australia Adopt A Platypus

Image: WWF-Australia

What’s Being Done To Help The Platypus?

According to WWF-Australia, platypuses are facing a ‘silent extinction’. This is why WWF-Australia is on a mission to rewild platypuses, so that future generations can know and love this incredible Aussie animal! 

WWF-Australia is working with UNSW’s Platypus Conservation Initiatives, Taronga Conservation Society Australia and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to commence their 3-year project to restore platypuses in Sydney’s Royal National Park. 

This project was instigated by the 2019-20 Australian bushfire crisis, which had catastrophic impacts on platypuses and their dried-up riverbeds. According to WWF-Australia’s Rewilding Project Manager, Rob Brewster, “this tragedy made us realise that platypus populations were likely being threatened in lots of places that weren’t being monitored."

WWF Australia Platypus Adoption PackWWF Australia Platypus Adoption Pack

Image: WWF-Australia

Adopt A Platypus Through WWF-Australia!

Did you know that just 1% of Australians have ever seen a platypus in the wild? WWF-Australia’s Rob Brewster wants to change this. He says that people in south eastern Australia should be able to sit near their local creek and see one!

To do this, WWF-Australia and their partners are working with local rangers to establish a River Guardian program, which monitors the conditions of areas where platypuses are spotted. “All this information is part of the puzzle for how we can rewild the platypus, and we really hope the local community will be able to help develop that process in Sydney’s Royal National Park,” said Brewster.

To support this WWF-Australia’s platypus rewilding program, you can adopt a platypus! You’ll receive an information pack and an adorable soft platypus toy.

Will you help the platypus during Platypus Month? Let’s save our iconic platypus from extinction! To discover more ways to help Australia's most iconic species, check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.

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