Platypuses are dependent on the features and resources of the creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds in which they live.
They forage for small invertebrate food species in the water (instream habitat) but also spend around half of each day in burrows in the banks (riparian habitat). Although platypuses are found in places with a wide range of instream and riparian habitats, ranging from excellent to poor, a number of distinct habitat features are frequently associated with the occurrence of healthy platypus populations.
Conservation of such habitats and/or rehabilitation to restore or improve them will facilitate conservation of this iconic Australian species, along with other native species (including fish, frogs, water dragons, turtles, birds and the water rat) that contribute to the health and diversity of water bodies and their surroundings.
CONSOLIDATED EARTH BANKS
The roots of riparian plants reduce flood damage and other erosion, holding together banks used for resting and nesting burrows.
Creates summer shade and supplies organic material that benefits the small invertebrate food species (macroinvertebrates). It also reduces the chance of predation by foxes, dogs and some birds of prey.
Pools deeper than 1 m but less than 5 are preferred and larger pools are extremely important as refuges during drought times when connecting riffles (rapids) may dry out.
Platypuses also forage in riffles. Large woody material and plants growing in the water (macrophytes) provide shelter, living spaces and organic food material for macroinvertebrates and native fish species.
WHAT TO DO
• Join in Landcare, Rivercare or Bushcare group activities. Careful weed removal, selected plantings, leaving stumps and woody instream material in place or just realign it with the stream flow.
• Don’t let your stock have unlimited access to the water body and its banks and consolidate any bank where stock have access to reduce erosion and sediment input to the water body.
• Seek expert advice if engineering works are necessary to control more severe erosion.
• Carry out regular feral predator reduction measures.
By Dr Tom Grant for the Hastings Platypus Awareness and Conservation Team – PACT.