What does it look like? Unmistakable. Dense dark greyish to brown fur above, with flat paddle-shaped tail and broad, greyish-brown ‘duck-like’ bill that extends over the forehead and chin. Underparts paler greyish or reddish-brown. Front feet fully webbed, with web extending past claws, and rear feet partially webbed. Males have a poisonous spur on ankle of each hind leg.
Where does it live? Eastern and south-eastern Australia, from south-eastern Cape York Peninsula Qld, through eastern NSW and southern Vic to Tas. Introduced to King Islands in Bass Strait and Kangaroo Island SA.
What are its habitats and habits? Regularly flowing river systems and associated billabongs, where it hunts along the bottom of the waterway for a variety of large aquatic invertebrates. Nesting chamber at the end of a long burrow with the entrance just above the water level, and up to 3 (usually 2) soft-shelled eggs are incubated for around 12 days before they hatch, after which the young are fed with milk for around 4 months.
Interesting fact: The bill has electrosensors and mechanoreceptors to detect electrical pulses and movement of prey.
Scientific name: Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Size: 390-6o0 mm TL (males generally larger than females)
Also known as: Duck-billed Platypus