The platypus is a unique Australian animal. Along with echidnas, platypuses are known as monotremes – mammals that lay eggs. Platypuses occur in freshwater systems along Australia's eastern coast, where there are slow moving pools and fast-moving riffle areas with coarse bottom materials such as cobbles and gravel. Platypuses make use of crevices and stream debris for shelter or burrow into earth banks under roots of native vegetation.
Platypuses are active all year round, but mostly during twilight and in the night. During the day, individuals shelter in a short burrow in a bank. The platypus feeds mainly during the night, foraging up to 12 hours per day, on a wide variety of aquatic invertebrates such as shrimp, worms, yabbies, pea-shell mussels and immature and adult aquatic insects (such as dragonflies, caddisflies, beetles and water bugs).
Council's support of the Platypus and its habitat
Significance of the Platypus logo for Camden Council
During 2005, Council formally adopted the platypus into its logo as a symbol of a Sustainable Camden because although once common in the area, the effect of human activities has impacted on the river and has seen the decline of the platypus. One of Council’s goals is to improve the quality of the Nepean River so that the platypus can return to its natural habitat.
Platypus Monitoring Program
Detecting species, particularly in an aquatic environment, can be difficult, time consuming and often highly invasive.
Every living creature leaves traces of DNA in the environment through skin cells, fur, hair, and scats. This is known as environmental DNA or eDNA. Analysis of eDNA is a relatively new, quick and non-invasive method for detecting species such as the platypus.
Council commenced a platypus monitoring program in February 2021 that utilises eDNA technology to determine the presence of platypus at six sites along the Nepean River at approximately 5km intervals. The monitoring program aims to better understand the local platypus population and better direct conservation efforts along the riparian corridor.
Water samples are collected at each of the six sites and then sent to a laboratory for analysis of any trace of platypus, Macquarie perch and the invasive fish European carp.
Sampling will be undertaken in February and September each year as these are active periods in the platypus lifecycle – juvenile platypus emerge from the burrow in February and breeding occurs in September each year.
Results of Platypus Monitoring Program
In exciting news, results from sampling in February 2021 detected the presence of platypus in the northern sections of the Nepean River downstream of the suburb of Camden. Council will continue working with neighbouring councils and researchers to build our knowledge and understanding of their distribution, with more sampling planned for later in the year.
As platypus are rarely seen in the wild, Council encourages residents to report any platypus sightings to the Associate Professor David Phalen, University of Sydney 9036 7757. This will provide valuable information that can be used for further research into the habitat of this unique creature.
For more information on how you can become a backyard buddy and care for platypus, check out these resources below:
Platypus safe yabby traps
On 30 April 2021 DPI Fisheries enforced a ban on all closed-top yabby traps, including opera house and Kulkyne pyramid style traps. It is now illegal to use closed-top yabby traps in all inland waters in NSW.
This is a win for aquatic air-breathing animals, including platypus, turtles, water birds and rakali (Australian water rats). Platypuses were particularly vulnerable to being killed in these traps because yabbies are part of their natural diet and they would often get trapped in the net and drown.
Open-top traps are safe for platypuses but are still just as effective for recreational yabbying.
To assist with the yabby trap transition, DPI is giving away 5,000 open-top traps. For more information on the changes in regulation or how to obtain a free open-top yabby net, visit DPI Fisheries website.
For more information contact Council’s Sustainability Team on 4654 7777.
Contact WIRES Hotline on 1300 094 737 or Sydney Wildlife Rescue Hotline on 9413 4300 for injured native animals and to report illegal fishing or trappings contact Fishers Watch Phoneline 1800 043 536. (Note: Calls made to 1800 numbers from a standard telephone are free to the caller. Calls made from a mobile may be charged at a timed rate).
In the instances where Council is contacted directly regarding reports of illegal fishing or riverbank habitat destruction etc, Council officers, can direct the caller to:
Contact the Fishers Watch Phoneline 1800 043 536 or complete the online report.
Alternatively, Council Officers can forward the information onto the Fishers Watch Phoneline 1800 043 536. In this instance, the following information is required from the caller:
- Type of activity
- Time, date and location of activity
- Number of people and any descriptions
- Registration numbers of cars and boats.
- Contact details (optional)
Council does not offer any reward, monetary or otherwise for the reporting of illegal fishing activities. Any enquiries of this nature should be directed to the Fishers Watch Phoneline 1800 043 536.