Habitat

For a small group of specialized animals, monotremes occupy a surprisingly wide range of habitats. The duck-billed platypus is semi-aquatic and is dependent on permanent rivers or freshwater pools. Thus, it is restricted to parts of Australia with a relatively high rainfall. Both males and females construct simple burrows on the banks of rivers or pools and catch most of their food underwater. Polluted waterways and those that have undergone severe bankside development or canalization are generally not suitable. However, platypuses are increasingly common in suburban settings, due to legal protection and environmental restoration projects.

Short-beaked echidnas are among the most ubiquitous Australian mammals. They have no specialist habitat requirements other than an adequate supply of ants for food, and live everywhere from tropical rainforest to suburban gardens and city parks. There is enough moisture in their diet to sustain them even in the arid central desert of Australia, although there they are much more sparsely distributed. The long-beaked echidna occupies a more restricted range of habitats, mainly montane forests and damp alpine meadows in the higher parts of New Guinea. It is much less tolerant of dry conditions than its short-beaked cousin.

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