Platypus live in fresh water rivers and creeks and will centre their lives in and around their burrows. They will travel around 1km from the burrow in either direction to forage for food so have a total habitat size of around 2km. Within that area, platypus will ideally have a number of riparian features that help them to stay healthy, protected and enable them to survive severe weather conditions.
The East Coast of Australia is known for its extreme weather and one of these extremes is heavy, tropical rainfall. A natural creek system is built to cope in this situation. An ideal place for a burrow is fairly high up, to account for changing water levels, so a platypus will search for somewhere with high, well supported river banks. Not all parts of the creek will have high river banks but all river banks should be supported by plentiful tree roots and vegetation which prevent erosion as fast flowing water rips through. They also provide a climbing frame for native species to escape the water.
Natural predators of platypus include birds of prey, snakes, guanas and quolls. Thick and over-hanging native vegetation around the water’s edge helps the platypus to stay hidden. Naturally, most rivers and creeks in Australia would usually be surrounded by forests, woodland and bush which provide shade and coverage for platypus and other aquatic animals to leave the water and move around on land. However, many creeks and river systems are now highly exposed due to European settlement clearing.
Platypus need to eat around 20% of their body weight in food per day, that’s approximately 500g of macroinvertebrates! This increases to even more for nursing mothers. This means platypus will ideally find a habitat that contains multiple micro-environments that support waterbugs so plenty of riffles, strong edges and plenty of pools of varying depth. Platypus are shallow divers (generally no more than a few metres), but a habitat range with pools of varying depth will help support them in times of drought