The platypus belongs to the Monotreme (egg-laying mammal) family. Their closest living relative is the Echidna which is terrestrial, unlike the aquatic nature of the platypus. Fossil evidence of the platypus is up to 130 million years old. Therefore, at one time, the platypus existed in the water while dinosaurs roamed Earth!
The platypus lives along the eastern coast of Australia, including Tasmania. They can be found in freshwater streams, creeks and river tributaries. They are most active at dawn and dusk, although this can vary between individuals and can be influenced by breeding, water temperature, human activity and food resources. Therefore, this animal's activities can be known as diurnal (day time activity), nocturnal (night time activity) or crepuscular (dawn and dusk activity).
Platypodes feed predominantly on freshwater crayfish, small fish and aquatic invertebrates. The platypus has an extremely sensitive bill with many electro-receptors located across the soft, leathery area. They locate prey through electro-location, which enables them to locate their food sources via signals emitted from their prey and through the smallest water movements.
When not in water, the platypus will move into a secure burrow via a lengthy tunnel. Burrows also provide excellent security for nesting as well as the birthing and development of young.
The male platypus has a large spur located on each hind foot, connected to a venom gland. This is most likely used in territory defence during breeding season and can inflict excruciating pain and incapacitation or death of a rival.
Platypus numbers remain reasonably stable in the wild, although drowning in illegal yabbie traps and net, and entanglement in fishing line and litter causing death or injury, are increasing problems which may result in a decrease in numbers over a very short time. A quick and easy way you can save a platypus and other aquatic animals is to collect and dispose of any litter you find, before it reaches waterways.