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Platypus Population by Country 2024

The platypus is one of the perfect examples of biodiversity on the planet. It’s one of those animals that are quite interesting since they don’t really fit the mold of many common animal groups like mammals. Instead, its genetics are made of a combination of marsupials, birds, reptiles, and monotremes (egg-laying mammals.)

Female platypuses, for instance, lay eggs, have a pouch for babies, and don’t have nipples. A unique characteristic of a male platypus is a venomous spur on their ankle. They also move around well in the water and the land. A genetic profile shows that they have about 18,000 gene groups, which is less than the 20,000 that humans have, but more than many other animals have.

Platypuses are part of the Australia/Oceana ecosystem that includes all sorts of other evolutionary oddities, from wombats to kangaroos. They’re commonly found in the eastern area of the Australia continent as well as the island of Tasmania.

In fact, with the exception of two at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in San Diego, Calif., all platypuses are currently found in either Australia or Tasmania.

There are several reasons for this, starting with the fact that it’s hard to monitor them in the wild. But what has been observed is believed to be in decline. Current numbers range between 30,000 and 300,000.

They’re officially classified as “near threatened” by the Union for Conservation of Nature. World Wildlife Fund Australia say their habitat is being reduced due to deforestation, drought, fires, and general population growth. They prefer waterways and wetlands, which are shrinking. Within the state of South Australia, their status is “endangered,” and the State of Victoria has recommended changing their status to “threatened.”

Past programs to introduce them to other climates or start captive breeding programs in Europe and the U.S. haven’t been successful. ZooChat, an online forum, indicated that some pairs purchased by zoos over the last century often died quickly at their new home, or sometimes en route, causing the government of Australia to stop accepting these requests.

There is good news for those wanting to see more of these unique creatures without having to go Down Under or visit San Diego. The zoo has set up a live stream of a Platypus Cam which can be watched throughout the day and night, since they’re known to be nocturnal.

  • The platypus is native only to the Australian mainland and the Australian island state of Tasmania.
  • The abnormally wide estimated population (from 2016) is reflective of the facts that proper live-trapping population studies are logistically challenging to carry out in some parts of the platypus' range.

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Platypus Population