Register      Login
Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society

A leucistic platypus observed on the New England Tablelands of New South Wales

Louise M. Streeting A * , Richard Daugherty B , Sarah Burrows B , Deborah S. Bower A , Sandy Watson A , Neve Daugherty B and Martin L. Dillon A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia.

B Independent researcher, Uralla, NSW, Australia.

C Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, Armidale, NSW, Australia.

* Correspondence to:

Handling Editor: Ross Goldingay

Australian Mammalogy 46, AM23027
Submitted: 28 May 2023  Accepted: 12 October 2023  Published: 31 October 2023

© 2024 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of the Australian Mammal Society. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND)


Genetic mutations resulting in abnormal colouration occur across all vertebrate groups but are considered rare, especially in mammals. Hypo-pigmentary conditions can be separated into albinism, leucism and piebaldism. The impact of colour variation on an animal’s risk of predation and its ability to blend with its surroundings is widely recognised. We report our observations of a white platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) in a tributary of the Gwydir River in the upper reaches of the Murray Darling Basin, New South Wales, Australia. We describe our observations in the context of historical platypus records since 1835.

Keywords: albino, animal colouration, hypo-pigmentation, leucism, monotreme, Murray Darling Basin, Myuchelys bellii, New England Tablelands, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, white platypus.


Abreu, M. S. L., Machado, R., Barbieri, F., Freitas, N. S., and Oliveira, L. R. (2013). Anomalous colour in Neotropical mammals: a review with new records for Didelphis sp. (Didelphidae, Didelphimorphia) and Arctocephalus australis (Otariidae, Carnivora). Brazilian Journal of Biology 73, 185-194.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

Anonymous (1940). Farmer catches rare albino platypus. The Daily Telegraph, p. 6. Available at [accessed 3 May 2023].

A.T. (1941). White platypus. The World’s News, p. 23. Available at [accessed 3 May 2023].

Atlas of Living Australia website. Available at [accessed 29 April 2023].

Bennett, G. (1835). Notes on the natural history and habits of the Ornithorhynchus paradoxus, Blum. The Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 1, 229-258.
| Crossref | Google Scholar |

Bennett, G. (1860). ‘Gatherings of a naturalist in Australasia: being observations principally on the animal and vegetable productions of New South Wales, New Zealand, and some of the Austral Islands.’ (J. Van Voorst: London.)

Bino, G., Grant, T. R., and Kingsford, R. T. (2015). Life history and dynamics of a platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) population: four decades of mark-recapture surveys. Scientific reports 5, 16073.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

Burrell, H. (1927). ‘The Platypus.’ (Angus and Robertson: Sydney.)

Dunlop, J., Peacock, D., Moore, H., and Cowan, M. (2020). Albinism in Dasyurus species – a collation of historical and modern records. Australian Mammalogy 42, 114-118.
| Crossref | Google Scholar |

Fertl, D., and Rosel, P. E. (2009). Albinism. In ‘Encyclopedia of marine mammals’, 2nd edn. (Eds B. Würsig, W. F. Perrin, J. G. M. Thewissen.) pp. 24–26. (Academic Press: Burlington MA, USA.)

Gorta, S. B. Z., Alting, B., Claridge, A., and Henderson, T. (2021). Apparent piebald variants in quolls (Dasyurus): examples of three recent cases in the spotted-tailed quoll Dasyurus maculatus. Australian Mammalogy 43, 373-377.
| Crossref | Google Scholar |

Grant, T. R., and Fanning, D. (2007). ‘Platypus’, 4th edn. (CSIRO Publishing: Collingwood.)

Lucati, F., and López‐Baucells, A. (2017). Chromatic disorders in bats: a review of pigmentation anomalies and the misuse of terms to describe them. Mammal Review 47, 112-123.
| Crossref | Google Scholar |

McCardle, H. (2012). Albinism in wild vertebrates. MSc thesis, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.

Micky (1950). White platypus. The World’s News, p. 21. Available at [accessed 3 May 2023].

Munday, B. L., Whittington, R. J., and Stewart, N. J. (1998). Disease conditions and subclinical infections of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 353, 1093-1099.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

National Library of Australia. 2022. Trove. Available at [accessed 22 January 2023]

Nattrass, R. (2002). The Great Queensland PlatySearch. Internal report (NatureSearch). (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service: Qld, Australia.)

New South Wales BioNet Atlas. Available at [accessed 29 April 2023].

Queensland WildNet Database. Available at [accessed 29 April 2023].

Rakick, R., Rakick, B., Cook, L., and Munks, S. (2001). Observations of a platypus foraging in the sea and hunting by a wedge-tailed eagle. Tasmanian Naturalist 123, 3-4.
| Google Scholar |

Richards, G. C. (1986). Predation on a platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Monotremata: Ornithorhynchidae), by a goshawk. Australian Mammalogy 9, 67.
| Crossref | Google Scholar |

Scott, R. (1988). Australian Geographic 12, October–December, Cover image. Australian Geographic Society.

Seale, J. (2008). Sea-eagle takes platypus. Field Notes. Boobook 26, 6.
| Google Scholar |

Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. (2010). ‘Conserving Platypus and Water-Rats: Information and guidelines.’ (Australian Platypus Conservancy: Wiseleigh Vic.) Available at [accessed 17 May 2023].

South Australia NatureMaps website. Available at [accessed 29 April 2023].

Streeting, L. M., Bower, D. S., Dillon, M. L., Spark, P., Gough, M., Skidmore, A., McDonald, P. G., Delaney, H., Burns, A., Watson, S., Dissanayake, D. S. B., Georges, A., and McKnight, D. T. (2022). Optimising the hatching success of artificially incubated eggs for use in a conservation program for the western saw-shelled turtle (Myuchelys bellii). Australian Journal of Zoology 70, 74-82.
| Crossref | Google Scholar |

Streeting, L. M., Daugherty, R., Burrows, S., Bower, D. S., Watson, S., Daugherty, N., and Dillon, M. L. (2023). Media files for: A leucistic platypus observed on the New England Tablelands of New South Wales. figshare. 10.6084/m9.figshare.c.6751722

Tasmania Natural Values Atlas website. Available at[accessed 29 April 2023].

van Grouw, H. (2006). Not every white bird is an albino: sense and nonsense about colour aberrations in birds. Dutch Birding 28, 79-89.
| Google Scholar |

Victorian Biodiversity Atlas website. Available at [accessed 29 April 2023].

Warden, I. (1979). Gang Gang - A ripping prank (hee hee!). The Canberra Times, p. 3. Available at [accessed 27 January 2022].

Warden, I., and Pryor, G. (1979). Disraeli’s Creek: Ian Warden and Geoff Pryor visit a little-known scene of Australian history. The Canberra Times, p. 7. Available at [accessed 27 January 2022].

Williams, G. A., Serena, M., and Grant, T. R. (2013). Age-related change in spurs and spur sheaths of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). Australian Mammalogy 35, 107-114.
| Crossref | Google Scholar |