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24 April 2018 Seasonal changes in food selection and nutrition of captive platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)
Jessica L. Thomas, Kathrine A. Handasyde, Peter Temple-Smith, Marissa L. Parrott
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Abstract

Anecdotal observations of captive platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) suggest that they show a seasonal preference for particular foods, but this has never been rigorously measured. This study aimed to determine seasonal food preferences and energy consumption of captive platypuses so that better protocols for maintaining platypuses in captivity can be developed. Seven platypuses were fed an ad libitum diet with all food items weighed in and out of tanks. Food items were analysed for energy, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Platypuses preferred less mobile prey (mealworms, earthworms and fly pupae) over highly mobile prey (crayfish). There was no significant seasonal change in preference for different dietary items, which is more likely to be driven by prey behaviour. Crayfish contributed the largest percentage (mass) consumed and was highly nutritious. While the relative percentage of items in the diet did not change seasonally, the quantity eaten did. The mean energy intake of platypuses was 921 kJ kg–1 day–1 and varied seasonally, being lowest during the breeding season (810 kJ kg–1 day–1) and highest in the postbreeding season (1007 kJ kg–1 day–1). These changes were associated with preparation and recovery from the breeding season. We conclude that the platypus diet is influenced by nutrition and seasonal factors as well as by prey behaviour. This knowledge will contribute to improving the husbandry and management of platypuses, which are widely recognised as difficult to maintain in captivity.

© CSIRO 2017
Jessica L. Thomas, Kathrine A. Handasyde, Peter Temple-Smith, and Marissa L. Parrott "Seasonal changes in food selection and nutrition of captive platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)," Australian Journal of Zoology 65(5), 319-327, (24 April 2018). https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO18004
Received: 1 November 2017; Accepted: 1 April 2018; Published: 24 April 2018
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