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Monotremes journey

Posted by on December 14, 2011

So, when I woke up This morning, I felt the familiar sense of another boring day of schoolwork. But it was not to be! Before I got I asked my parent who still in bed, if we could have an excursion day today.

After we’d had breakfast, Dad answered my question. I was both overjoyed and fearful to hear that it depended much on how a silly phone call that Mum would get, turned out. While Mum was having the call with her wringing friend, I worked out that the answer I wanted was that the writing friend would say that Mum could come over to have a chat with her and the answer I was fearful of didn’t happen.

We set out across the bay in the our faithful dinghy (family car) BONNIE. Now, just before we got into the dinghy, Dad got a business call, horrible things they are. So Mum had to row us across the bay while Dad talked on the phone. But if you are someone like Mum and don’t do much rowing and the row you are about to do is just over a kilometer long, then it must seem a bit daunting, and I do think Mum strained all the muscles in her upper body, but she did a fabulous job, and she safely rowed us to the other side of the bay. On the other side (ed: Redbill Point), we waded through the mud due to the low tide and really shallow angle of the beach… BONNIE could go no further at about 20 paces off the beach. Considering the mud was thick and much like quicksand, and to Alex’s delight, full of crabs, it was slow going to get the boat up on the rocky shore. We dragged the dinghy up and hid it upside down in the bushes.


So far, the journey wasn’t looking all that good. Especially when I put a hole in my foot due to a metal sliver that was lodged in my Croc. But still, no matter, we set out for Mum’s writing friend’s house.

Halfway up the long road Dad realized that he had left his iPhone in the breast pocket of his lifejacket, which was in the dinghy. Mum, who was already annoyed because we were all taking so long to get to her writing friend’s house, went banana’s on Dad. Eventually after lots of yelling and confused nonsense we settled on Dad would go back and get his iPhone while Mum, Alex and me would continue on our treacherous journey.

Actually, it was all easy going from then on, thankfully. When we got the friends place, we put on a nice TV show and watched that, slack jawed and drooling as my parents say.

I had an orange juice, and so did Alex. Mum got stuck into chatting with her writing friend. Soon, after a bit of TV watching, Dad turned up. We set off to Seahorse World! (that journey is explained by Alex here)


We quickly made a deal with Kim, the person on watch at Seahorse World, and we would go to the Platypus House and do the tour there before coming back to Seahorse World.

Platypuses, as you all know, are monotremes. They are called that because they lay eggs because they are a cross between mammals and reptiles. “Mono” means one, and monotremes have only one opening underneath them. It’s their cloacca. Echidnas are also monotremes. Out of the two, I used to like platypuses more, but now echidnas are at the top of the roost.

When the tour began, we moved into a room full of stuffed animals on display. Foxes, quolls, platypuses and echidnas. The tour guide gave all us kids a donk on the rules, but don’t fear, the adults got a donk as well.

She showed us how soft platypus fur was. Their upper body had two layers of fur, and the fur on the underside had 800 hairs per millimeter, which is a lot. The males have a single spur on back of their hind feet, which, when they feel threatened, sticks out. It has a neurotoxin venom, which can even kill grown ups. There is no anti-venom.

After we were done with the stuffed animals, we went to real animals! We went into a room and saw a couple of platypuses in their enclosures. “Dusk” was a small female (about 25cm long) and her belly was covered in white lines, that was the air trapped in her belly fur. “Porky” was an old male who loved to stay in his tunnel snoozing, he only came out when they put fat earthworms into the tank. Platypuses love earthworms in the same way us humans love honey.


After we’d had a good look at those two, we went onto the other enclosure, which was more natural. It had segments of logs floating around in it. The smaller one of the two platypuses in that tank loved to swim underneath the hollow floating log and push it around, sticking his beak up occasionally for air. “Jupiter” was a big platypus. He lived up to his name, he was about 50 to 60cm long. Jupiter loved swim around on the bottom and eat tabbies and worms. “Jupiter” loved yabbie tails, and he ate up to 20 yabbies a day.


Then went to the echidna house.


The tour guide told us that echidna’s hated noise due to their expert hearing, so we filed into the room really quietly. We found one echidna was right near the door, burrowing into the carpet. We sat in a circle. The echidna’s took great interest in us. The tour guide has told us previously that echidna’s are very smart, and one had undone a man’s trouser zipper in the past. “Thomas” really impressed the crowd by burrowing under Dad’s legs. Dad was sitting cross-legged on the floor. He was somewhat surprised when the the little echidna exerted enough force to push Dad’s legs up and out of the way, even though the creature was so small. Curious, the little echidna tried to go even further. Dad, who was already trying to avoid being jabbed by the echidna’s spikes, had to now move his legs apart. “Thomas” decided to burrow further and poked nose, then head up under Dad’s crotch, earning a few cheers from the crowd. Thankfully, the “Thomas” decided to go no further and moved off.

After that incident, the echidna’s got their food. It was strange watching the echidna’s slurp up their gooey food with their long, long tongues. After feeding, all the echidnas wandered off in their strangle lumbering walk, back to their burrows.



After that, we had a good old chat with some other people at the tour, and then went to Seahorse World. And that, as I said before, is explained by my dear brother Alex in this post.

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