australian animals: the platypus edition

australia has so many interesting and intriguing animals. so i thought i’d put together a few blog posts of the fun australian animals i’ve come across during my travels. and i thought i’d start it off with the most elusive of the bunch, the platypus!

i was OBSESSED with platypuses in the 4th grade. i would read and read and read as much as i could about them in the encyclopedia (remember having these before google became a thing!?!?!?!?) at home and the library at school. why? because of these very intriguing facts:

  • the platypus is one of only 2 monotremes in the world (the other being the echidna), meaning they are mammals who lay eggs
  • the males have venomous spurs in their hind legs
  • the females don’t have nipples, they excrete milk from their mammary ducts onto their stomach where the baby drinks it up
  • their tail is used for swimming, storing extra fat in case of food shortage and even for incubating their eggs!
  • when the first platypus was sent to england, scientists there thought it was fake!

needless to say, a lot of cool things about a tiny little animal who does look like it was sewn together from a few other animals!

one of the first times i went to australia, bron and i went to the sydney aquarium. the first exhibit is a tank in a dark room where the platypuses are. we sat there FOREVER and didn’t see a single one. and this wasn’t a giant tank by any means. so we walked through the rest of the aquarium and then went back to stare into a tank that the staff assured me had platypuses in.

nope. didn’t see a single one.

fast forward a few years and a few more trips to australia. still hadn’t seen a platypus in the wild. but heard everyone’s stories about where or when they had seen a platypus. yeah, yeah, i get it. they are real, but I, ME, CHRISTA wants to see one. so before i left tasmania this time, jen and i went to her friend virginia’s house. she lives on a farm with a dam that has platypuses in it!

thus the platypus ‘hunting’ began!

we sat there for quite a while before i actually saw anything. all the while hearing stories from virginia about how they come up on the edge of the dam and walk around and scratch their bellies. and then, finally, a few ripples in the water. a platypus.

i didn’t see one super up close, but one did come up close to the shore as we were going down. so we accidentally scared her away. but still, it was so so SO amazing to even be able to see these incredible animals just feet away from me, in the wild.

i didn’t get any great photos of the experience. i was just excited to be there in the moment and watching some amazing platypuses!!!

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