Breeding in a free-ranging population of platypuses, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, in the upper Shoalhaven River, New South Wales - A 27 year study

T. R. Grant, M. Griffiths, P. D. Temple-Smith

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A total of 150 captures of lactating platypuses (97 individuals) were made over a period of 27 years in the study area. The proportion of lactating females from December samples ranged from 18 to 80% (mean 43.4±17.7%; n = 21 breeding seasons). The percentage of juveniles in samples taken at the seasons when young were leaving the nesting burrows varied from 0-63% (mean 34.4±17.9%; n = 22 breeding seasons). Only 8.8% percent of captured juvenile females went on to breed in the area; one bred in its second breeding season after emergence but two others did not breed until at least their 4 th breeding season. Some females bred during at least 2-3 consecutive breeding seasons but others failed to breed in consecutive years. The percentages of females lactating in the months of September to April indicated a spread in the breeding season. Lactation in the wild was apparently shorter than reported in captivity, lasting more than 3 but less than 4 months. The majority of variation in breeding activity and recruitment could not be explained in terms of drought or observed riverine and riparian changes during the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Breeding
  • Drought
  • Lactation
  • New South Wales
  • Ornithorhynchus anatinus
  • Platypus
  • Recruitment
  • Sedimentation

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