Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Aspects of Lactation in the Platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Monotremata), in Waters of Eastern New South Wales.

TR Grant, M Griffiths and RMC Leckie

Australian Journal of Zoology 31(6) 881 - 889
Published: 1983


Female platypuses captured in waters of eastern New South Wales were found to be lactating between the months of October and March. Lactating females were most numerous in December, accounting for 64% of females captured. Non-lactating females were taken in all months, indicating that not all females breed successfully every year. There was no significant difference between the fatty acid complement of milk taken from a platypus lactating very late in the season and those of others sampled in December at the peak of the lactation season. Some evidence exists that females do not become reproductive until at least their second year of life. Some females were found lactating in consecutive years, and others lactated one year and not in the one following. Animals of over 9 years of age are known to breed. Most juveniles were captured in February, March and April, and it is suggested that the young leave the breeding burrows for the first time in late January through to March, and become independent from their mothers, who are ceasing lactation at that time.

© CSIRO 1983

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