Friday, August 8, 2008

Finding the Platypus

Platypus live in streams and pools in Tasmania, and I was really hoping we could find some. What a weird little animal - a monotreme, they lay eggs but nurse their young. they have duck bills and are covered in fur. The males have claws that can excrete poison if they need to defend their space or family. When I asked our guide if we could try to locate a platypus he said sure, but seemed surprised. "Not many people want to see one," he said. WHAT? How could you not want to see a platypus??

We looked in several places where there were pairs, watching the water for v-shaped wakes. We did find several pairs across Tasmania, but they are hard to photograph. They dive for a long time and come up in a different place, always watching to see where you are. By the time you get the shot framed they are underwater again. It took many, many tries to get photos and I never got any on land, or any better than these. But, at least you can tell it's a platypus.

We never had the time to do it, but when I go back sometime I'd like to locate a couple of platypus and spend an afternoon watching them - maybe get a glimpse of them on land. It's such a unique animal and one you can't see anywhere but Australia.

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