Without urgent action to address the extinction crisis, it won’t be a case of if the platypus becomes extinct, but when.
Donate today to help save the platypus before it's too late. We won't get a second chance.
Common name: Platypus
Aboriginal names: Matakupay, Mallangong, Tambreet, Gaya-dari, Boondaburra, Lare-re-lar
Scientific name: Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Endangered status: Vulnerable (VIC), nominated for Threatened (national)
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 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
How you can protect the platypus
Take part in the platy project:
The platy-project is a nation-wide citizen science project where we’re asking people to head down to their local creek or river, find a quiet place on the bank, try to spot a platypus and record what they see. By recording where platypuses live we can understand more about this incredible creature, and help prevent further declines in their numbers.
There are places within the platypus’ range where sightings have never been recorded, or where they haven’t been seen for a long time. These are our biggest gaps in knowledge.
You can help researchers fill these gaps by visiting priority areas, looking for platypuses, and uploading your findings to the University of New South Wales’ platypus sighting database. You’ll also have an incredible time getting out into nature – and hopefully experience the magical moment of spotting a platypus! Sign up to the platy-project here.
We only have a tiny window of opportunity to save this unique and very special creature. If nothing is done, it won’t be a case of if the platypus becomes extinct, but when.
Your gift to the platypus will:
Help gather the missing data on platypus distribution, demonstrating risk to the species, before it's too late.
Lead evidence-based, proactive and innovative conservation projects in 2023 to protect our most vulnerable Australian animals from extinction.
- Continue our campaign for strong national laws that actually protect nature and wildlife.
Donate to help save the platypus before its too late.
Want another way to get involved?
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.
Disappearing act: platypus in decline
The platy-project: the magic of platypus spotting
Banner image: Doug Gimesy