Ornithorhynchus anatinusBeautiful, majestic, mysterious and darn right odd are possible descriptions of the platypus. Here is an animal whose general structure puts it somewhere on a level with reptiles and birds and at the same time suggests a closer relationship to those animals we call mammals which have fur coats, four legs and produce milk to feed their babies.
The platypus is a highly specialised animal. What specialised adaptations has nature grafted onto this aquatic creature? It certainly has not developed the streamlines of dolphins or seals but has enormous, webbed front feet and a flattened tail. It has a quiet and leisurely way of swimming which like the rest of the animal has to be seen to be believed.
On land, the platypus is shuffling and sinuous. The feet are very useful and can be used for a variety of purposes, apart from walking on, including grasping an enemy in order to inject him with venom, mating, preening, and digging. Only at Platypus House are you likely to see any of these activities because our animals are active throughout the day.
Of course the platypus does not have a duck’s beak! You would only think this to be the case if you were to look at photographs or drawings. The snout or bill of a platypus is soft, moist, flexible and extremely sensitive. Furthermore, there are no sensory whiskers like those seen on a dog or cat. Inside the mouth there are no teeth once the animal is a few months old – the teeth fall out and are replaced by horny plates with which to grind the food and ridges to hold onto slippery morsels. After watching the platypuses at Platypus House you will soon realize just how clever the animals are at catching their prey; even large freshwater crayfish can be quickly disposed of.
We actually have a wild echnida that lives at our place - every now and again he runs up our front veranda and scuttles into the garden then down to the dam area where he hides and hunts for ants.
Today is Keith's birthday. We have had the best day and the nicest part of it is that I am still here to celebrate with him in style! Morning tea at Grindelwald (Swiss Village) and a walk around Lake Louise then lunch at the beautiful Gorge Restaurant, Cataract Gorge, Launceston overlooking the gorge, suspension bridge and chairlift.