Duck Billed Platypus Facts
The Platypus looks like a bizarre combination of several animals and is a poster animal for the odd creatures to be found in Australia. It is a mammal that has a bill like a duck, feet like an otter, tail like a beaver and if that wasn’t enough it also lays eggs! Not surprising then, that when it was first discovered by Europeans in 1798 people were not convinced that it was real (even after seeing a live specimen)!
Is the platypus a mammal?
One of the most distinguishing biological features of the platypus is its ability to lay eggs rather than giving birth to live young like almost all other mammals. The egg-laying mammals are called monotremes. Other than the platypus the only other monotremes are the echidnas. The young hatch hairless, blind and weak and are nourished by mother’s milk. Even though the female has mammary glands (the milk secreting organs of mammals) it does not have teats (nipples), instead is has “milk patches”. Pores in the skin secrete milk into grooves in the abdomen of the platypus and the babies just lap it up.
The platypus has thick fur (except on its feet and bill) which is also water-resistant. Its otter-like webbed feet allows it to swim easily. It is an air-breather but it spends a majority of its time underwater with its eyes closed while sensing with its bill. It has the ability to sense electrical fields generated by its prey (electroreception) and so utilizes this technique to locate its prey when underwater. There are electroreceptors in its bill that enable this function.
Quick Platypus Facts
The ankle spurs of the male platypus produces venom. This venom is strong enough to kill small animals, and can cause intense pain to humans.
Platypuses do not have a stomach, yet scientists believe that platypuses have descended from animals that did have a stomach, it simply evolved to live without one.
The YouTube video below contains a playlist of 5 videos about the Platypus. The list of videos featured is underneath.
- Duck Billed Platypus Facts by IP Factly – The essential duckbilled facts.
- Platypus Parts by National Geographic – National Geographic video describing the different parts of a platypus.
- Probing Platypus Evolution by National Geographic – A National Geographic video following scientists who want to find out if platypuses are different depending on which part of Australia they are from.
- Platypus Swimming, hunting and Feeding by alanalove – Great footage of a platypus doing it’s thing down by the river.
- Platypus in the wild by suppawters – Amazing footage of a wild baby platypus showing no fear of humans. It just waddles around them and is even patted! If you see a platypus don’t pat it – the males have a venomous spur!
You can find more information about this awesome creature at our 12 Duck-Billed Platypus Facts page.