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Calling all platypus spotters

By Charlotte Harper - 18 August 2016 0

Platypus

With spring in the air, it’s prime platypus-spotting season in the Canberra region, which is why ACT Waterwatch is calling for volunteers to help with a survey looking at their presence and movements in the Jerrabomberra Wetlands.

Platypuses spend more time feeding in August and the males are often out and about preparing for the breeding season. The survey will take place this Tuesday between 7.30am and 8.30am.

Either platypuses or platypus is correct as the plural form for these egg-laying mammals. Platypi is incorrect as the name comes from Greek not Latin – the Greek plural if used would be platypodes. Baby platypuses are called puggles. While we’re on platypus facts, this listicle on the furry monotreme is worth a read – did you know that platypuses have venomous spurs on their feet?

Platypuses have been found in many rivers and creeks in the ACT region and even spotted in Lake Burley Griffin.

No experience is necessary to volunteer to spot platypuses, according to Woo O’Reilly, Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch Facilitator. Candidates need only a sense of enthusiasm, warm clothes, binoculars and a watch or phone.

“The survey is part of a project being undertaken this month by ACT Waterwatch to look at how this unique mammal is faring in rivers and creeks in the Canberra region,” Ms O’Reilly said.

“This survey follows one undertaken earlier this month at Jerrabomberra Wetlands and others being undertaken in the Cooma region.”

Through similar survey work completed last year, Waterwatch discovered two platypuses living in a rundown creek in the middle of Cooma. The finding led to a restoration project for the area.

Waterwatch is also hosting a free platypus spotting walk between 8am and 9am on Sunday, August 28 starting from the Isabella Street footbridge in Queanbeyan. No RSVP is necessary for the walk.

“The fact the platypus is easily observed very close to Queanbeyan’s city centre illustrates people and platypus can live in close proximity,” Ms O’Reilly said.

“While August might be platypus month, I’d also like to encourage the community to report any platypus sightings from the ACT region so we can build a better picture of the presence and abundance of the species. Information such as contact details, time, date, location and any notes about behaviour and habitat can be sent to waterwatch@act.gov.au.”

To volunteer to assist with the survey between 7.30am to 8.30am on Tuesday, please RSVP via waterwatch@act.gov.au or 6207 2246.

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