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Monday, 13 March 2017

Platypus

The platypus lives in rivers and on river banks in eastern Australia.

Platypus can be big or small. The larger platypus live in Tasmania while the smaller ones live in Queensland.

Wild platypus in a creek in Tasmania. By Klaus - Flickr: 

Males are about one-third larger than females.

The platypus is sometimes called "duck billed platypus" because of its nose, which is similar to a duck's bill (mouth).

The first platypus specimen arrived in England in 1799. The skin of a dead platypus was sent, so biologists could study it.

George Shaw wrote the first written description of the duck-billed platypus in the Naturalist's Miscellany in 1799. Shaw stated that he first carefully checked the specimen he had been sent from Australia for signs of stitching as he thought it was a hoax. Thinking no creature could look so strange, he thought it had been made up from pieces of different animals.

A colour print of platypuses from 1863
On July 15, 1922, a duck-billed platypus arrived at the Bronx Zoo in New York. It was the first living platypus to leave Australia.

Platypus have a venomous spur capable of causing excruciating pain. It is one of the few species of venomous mammals.

Even though platypus venom won't kill you, it can cause intense pain that lasts as long as four months. The amount of poison increases during the breeding season.

The platypus, the Echidna and at least one species of dolphin are the only mammals known to have a sense of electroreception: they locate their prey in part by detecting electric fields generated by muscular contractions. The platypus' electroreception is the most sensitive of any mammal.

Platypus will attack hidden batteries in their habitat after sensing their voltage and believing them to be prey.

Platypuses will bite onto each other's tails and swim in a circle when they have decided to mate.


It is one of only two families of mammals which lay eggs. The other is the Echidna, which has four species.

The platypus is a carnivore. It eats worms, insect larvae, shrimps and yabbies, which are a kind of freshwater crayfish. It digs these animals out of the bottom of the river with its beak, or catches them while swimming.

The platypus has no stomach.  The food goes from the esophagus straight to the intestines.

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