Thursday 29 May 2014

New design crayfish traps will save platypus from drowning

The Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC) has been carrying out trials on a new design of a type of crayfish trap called an opera house trap. Opera house traps are widely sold in Australia to deploy in rivers to catch crayfish for eating. Unfortunately, these same rivers are populated by air-breathing platypus that cannot escape from the traps once they have entered them and so drown. The new design is fitted with a circular escape hatch in the roof, through which platypus can find their way back out. The research, funded by the Taronga Conservation Society, involved 34 adults and 24 juvenile platypus to establish how easily the animals found the escape holes. 

Of the four animals tested during daylight hours, all escaped within one minute of being introduced to a trap. At night, 63 per cent of tested animals managed to find their own way out within one minute and 19 per cent in 1-2 minutes. All exited via the escape hatch in the roof. Given that a platypus can hold its breath for approximately two and a half minutes when active, these findings suggest that a large proportion of wild platypus are likely to escape from a modified trap before they drown.

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