Bring Back the Platypus in Kedron Brook

Sunshine at Kedron
Photo credit: Brisbane City Council/Facebook

There is plenty of wildlife to see in Kedron Brook since the waterway is surrounded by lush bushland. Yet, the last reported sighting of a platypus in the area has been more than 13 years ago.

Characteristics of Platypus

The platypus is an animal that is found only in Australia. It has a duck-like bill, broad flat tail, webbed feet, and thick waterproof fur. The male has bony spurs on both hind legs for defence. The spurs are connected to a venom-producing gland in the thigh.

Territorial and solitary, platypuses do not live in social groups.

platypus swimming
Photo credit: pen_ash/Pixabay

Natural habitats are freshwater streams, lakes or rivers. The platypus is known to migrate to reach new home waterways. It generally travels up to 1 km along a stream but can travel up to 7 km.

Platypuses are big eaters and consume 15-30 percent of their total body weight in a day. They feed mainly on bottom-dwelling prey in the water. The carnivorous diet consists of fish eggs, worms, insects, crustaceans, molluscs, tadpoles, plus larvae of caddisflies, mayflies, and shrimps. Foraging platypuses stay underwater for up to one minute, but all food is eaten on the surface.

Kedron Brook

Kedron Brook is a watercourse that flows through the northern suburbs of Brisbane. When the new Brisbane Airport was built in the early 1970s, a part of the waterway was filled in, and the brook was diverted into a specially built floodway, which was re-dredged in May 1997 to assist in flood mitigation.

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The brook is now polluted by urban runoff and combined sewer outflows. River bank erosion, chemical pollution, and garbage may have had an impact on the habitat and food sources of the platypus.

The brook near Kalinga Park
Photo credit: Kedron Brook Catchment Network/Facebook

Also, the sandy substrate and relatively flat ground of the brook makes it an unsuitable habitat for platypuses since a platypus needs stable earthen sloping banks for their burrows.

There has been no sighting of the platypus in Kedron Brook since 2005. Scientists may have found no conclusive evidence of platypuses, but being such an elusive animal, it doesn’t mean they are not there.

We need to build community awareness to rehabilitate Kedron Brook and adjacent habitats. By initiating action now, we can help ensure the survival, and perhaps the return, of an animal that is uniquely Australian – the platypus.