Tassie Trip Day 4: Platypus House

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Who doesn’t love a Platypus!  These elusive little creatures are very rarely seen in the wild and to be up close and personal with them was quite an experience.  Plus, then throw in some echidnas aswell and you are set for a truly unforgettable experience.

This place is likely to be as close as you’re ever going to get to either of these creatures and we absolutely loved it.  Unfortunately the playful little platypus turned out to be quite hard to photograph, so we didn’t get too many good pics.

The Platypus House was established to educate and provide public awareness and understanding of these two monotremes.   What is a monotreme you might ask?  Well, let us explain (as we are experts now!)  Don’t worry, we had no idea up until a few weeks ago either!

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Monotremes are one of the three main groups of living mammals, along with placentals and marsupials and they are distinguished by the fact that they are egg laying mammals, rather than birthing live young.  There are only 2 egg-laying mammals left on the planet and they are the platypus and the echidna.

Platypus House is home to Tasmanian platypuses and Tasmanian echidnas, both of which are unique to Tasmania and not seen anywhere else in the world.

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Once you enter the Platypus House you are shown a video about platypus and given a lot of information about them, before being taken on a guided tour of the facility, firstly starting with the platypus pools to see them playing and watch them feeding.  You then walk through the echidna garden to watch them feeding and wandering around.  Now this was a cool experience watching these cute little creatures wobble around the room, even climbing over people’s feet if you happened to be in the way!


Platypus

img_3100So many words to describe the platypus … beautiful, mysterious, majestic, cute, odd, elusive, playful.

These unusual little things swim, but they have feet.  They have a duck like bill, a long flat body and a tail like a beaver or otter …. this is one strange-looking creature, but really, could they be any cuter!

Thousands of years of isolation have made the Tasmanian Platypus genetically discrete from other Australian Platypuses and makes them one of the most unique animals on earth.

Platypuses actually have two separate layers of fur, which help to keep them warm and dry.  They spend all day swimming around and hunting for their food but when they come back to land to eat, this two-layer fur feature keeps them warm as the second layer has basically kept their skin dry.

You see, when the platypus is on land, the two layers of fur trap air between them and help keep his body dry and make him more buoyant when swimming.  Once he enters the water, the little air pockets are released between the fur.

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Did you know …..

Male platypus have spurs on their hind feet that can deliver venom into their victim.   

Yes they may look like these soft, cute, cuddly and playful creatures and you just want to pat them, but think again.  We were told that if you are injected the effects are immediate and long-lasting, the extreme pain can apparently last for 3 months!.  Initially the excruciating pain is so bad that even morphine doesn’t help alleviate it.  But that’s only the beginning, soon you can become nauseated and suffer from cold sweats and swelling starts.   img_3099

Now we were told that a human is not going to die from this, although they may feel like they would rather than deal with the pain they are feeling!, but if it were a baby or a small animal it’s highly likely the result would be fatal.

And in case you were wondering, yes it’s only the nasty males that want to harm you!  The females are born with a spur, but it does not have any venom and generally falls off before adulthood.


Echidna

IMG_0407Echidnas are strange-looking too!  They have long beaks, are covered in spikes and are very awkward, but again, like the platypus, watch these little guys in action and they are just so adorable, you can’t help but love them.

Echidnas are very common across Australia, but, like their platypus mates, they are actually seldom seen by people in the wild.

Anyone who knows our little Gelly – or staffys in general, will know that they are little bulldozers and they won’t stop for anything, if you are in their way they are going through no matter what!  Well being in this garden was like being surrounded by little spikey Gelly’s who did what they wanted and walked where they wanted, whether you were in their way or not, one walked straight over the top of my foot!

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Did you know …..

*The spikes on the Echidna are very strong and sharp and are used for defence.  When they are feeling threatened, they will curl up and leave only their sharp spines exposed.

*A baby Echidna is called a ‘Puggle’.

*Echidnas have no teeth.

Spend a few minutes watching these guys walking around your feet and you can’t help but fall in love.  

 


InformationPlatypus House is open 7 days a week and is a 45min drive north of Launceston.  Your entry to Platypus House includes a guided tour of the platypus pools to see them playing and feeding and also a walk through the echidna garden to watch them feeding.

* Platypus House and Seahorse World are located next to each other.  You can purchase a ‘Tamar Triple Pass’ which gives you access to Seahorse World, Platypus House and Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre and offers a large saving on entry fees.

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