In a sight very few Canberrans would have ever seen, a lucky nature lover has captured footage of a happy platypus sunning and scratching himself at Tidbinbilla.
Canberra local Keighley Sutherland said she was wandering around Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve last Wednesday afternoon with her sister when she heard a noise coming from under the boardwalk.
“It was the weirdest thing,” she said. “I could hear something shuffling underneath the boardwalk but I thought it must have a been a duck. When I lent over the railing I saw this big platypus.
“Sometimes I see platypuses foraging in the dirt but I have never seen one rolling around like that. I was standing less than a metre above it as I was hanging over the bannister but it didn’t seem bothered at all.”
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Waterwatch regional facilitator and ecologist Woo O’Reilly said platypuses groom themselves to keep mites from compromising the integrity of their fur.
“Platypuses are very big on grooming because they need to look after their fur in order to regulate their body temperature,” Ms O’Reilly said. “Mites from a platypus’ burrows can get into their fur so they need to groom to keep their fur healthy.
Walking through Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Canberra local Keighley Sutherland couldn't believe her eyes when she saw a platypus scratching himself. Luckily, she captured the cute moment on video. According to an ecologist, platypuses groom themselves to keep mites from compromising the integrity of their fur.
Posted by The RiotACT on Monday, 23 September 2019
“It is so fundamental for them to keep their fur clean because they are a warm-blooded animal and it’s their fur that keeps them warm. If their fur gets compromised, they are in a lot of trouble.”
Ms O’Reilly also noted that all platypuses scratch and groom themselves with their back legs, much like canines.
“You’ll see that it was only using its back feet to scratch itself because they have very different shaped back feet compared to their front feet,” she shared. “The front feet are used for digging and swimming, but they used the curved claws on their back feet for grooming.
“They can get their back feet right up to their head to scratch around their bill.”
Ms O’Reilly, who runs the ACT Government’s Platypus Month during August, said she was pleased to see such a happy and healthy platypus in ACT waters after mixed sightings last month.
“From what I can tell from the video, he looked like a healthy and happy platypus,” she said with a laugh. “It definitely looked like he wasn’t struggling.”