Platypus facts

Common name: Platypus
Aboriginal names: Matakupay, Mallangong, Tambreet, Gaya-dari, Boondaburra, Lare-re-lar
Scientific name: Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Population: Declining
Endangered status: Vulnerable (VIC), nominated for Threatened (national)

platypus swimming
Photo: Doug Gimesy

Are platypus endangered?

  • Platypus numbers are in decline and this unique creature is now at risk of extinction. 
  • Over the past 30 years their habitat has shrunk by at least 22%, or about 200,000 km2, which is an area almost three times the size of Tasmania.
  • Already endangered in South Australia and recently listed as vulnerable in Victoria, we believe the platypus should be listed as threatened nationally

What are the biggest threats to the platypus?

  • Land-clearing, dams, drought, bushfires and climate change — all impacts of human activity — are destroying critical platypus habitat, leaving them with nowhere to go. 
  • To survive, platypuses need safe habitat to call home.
  • It’s staggering that an animal so central to our national identity isn’t adequately protected.

What does a platypus look like?

  • The platypus is one of Australia’s strangest and most iconic animals — with a rubbery duck bill, webbed feet, fur, pectoral girdles and splayed legs resembling the skeleton of a reptile.
  • A monotreme, the platypus is one of only two mammals that lay eggs (the other is the echidna) and male platypuses have a venomous spur on their back feet.
  • Electroreceptors in the bill of platypuses give them a kind of sixth sense so they can find their food underwater, while keeping their eyes and nose sealed. 

Where can I find a platypus?

  • Platypus are elusive, but it is not impossible to spot one! These are four tips on how to spot a platypus.
  • Rarely spotted in the wild, the best platypus home is a quiet freshwater river with native grasses, shrubs and trees lining the riverbanks. 
  • This is called the riparian zone. The rich vegetation creates sturdy banks for burrows and food for foraging. 
  • Platypuses are found in eastern mainland Australia, Tasmania and King Island. There is a small introduced population on Kangaroo Island. 

Photo: Doug Gimesy

The platypus is missing in the wild

We can’t imagine an Australia without the platypus.

But platypus are missing in the wild. Because our leaders are missing in action.

That’s why we’re pushing for stronger laws to better protect them and all of Australia’s incredible wildlife.

We demand strong environment laws that will save our iconic wildlife.

We need laws that actually protect nature, including strong outcome-focused environmental standards and an independent regulator to oversee decision-making.

Speak up for the platypus

Add your voice to the petition to the federal government, asking our elected representatives to support ambitious global goals for nature to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and achieve a Nature Positive world by 2030 — and invite your friends to raise their voice to nature too. 

Australia must work with other nations to deliver ambitious global goals for nature to halt and reverse biodiversity destruction and set us on a path to a nature-positive world. 

Read more

Disappearing act: platypus in decline


Header: Doug Gimesy