Any animal that has a combination of avian and animal attributes is bound to be perceived as a little bit weird, don't you think? Add to that its equally (if not more) strange appearance and you're definitely going to be wondering if what you're seeing is real. The animal I'm talking about looks so strange that the first people to discover it thought it was some kind of spoof being played on them. Wouldn't blame them though. What am I talking about? The duck billed platypus! This AnimalSake article has for you some interesting facts about this creature. Read them and you'll believe what I said.
Must Know Facts about Platypuses
|Kingdom - Animalia|
|Phylum - Chordata|
|Class - Mammalia|
|Order - Monotremata|
|Family - Ornithorhynchidae|
|Genus - Ornithorhynchus|
|Species - Ornithorhynchus anatinus|
- The duck billed platypus is a native Australian animal. Hence, it is also called the Australian platypus. However, it is also found in parts of Tasmania.
- This unusual looking creature derives its name from the Greek words platys meaning flat, and pous meaning foot.
- Its scientific name is Ornithorhynchus anatinus.
- On an average, the life span of a platypus is somewhere around 20 years.
- It belongs to the phylum chordata because it has a spinal cord.
- Class Mammalia means the females have mammary glands.
- The order Monotremata gives it the unique mammal characteristic of laying eggs. The duck billed platypus is only one of five species of monotremes. The other four are types of echidna.
- A platypus spends most of the time hunting for food.
- This is one of the very few mammals that lays eggs.
- It can grow up to a size of 20 inches: tail and body combined.
- The average weight of a duck billed platypus is somewhere around 3-4 pounds.
- It is a warm blooded animal.
- It has a bill and webbed feet like a duck, a tail like a beaver in which it can store fat during winter, and a body similar to an otter. This is why it looks strange.
- Male platypuses have venom stingers in their rear feet. They use these for defense.
- This venom is toxic enough to kill small animals like dogs or cats and the like, and can cause severe agony to humans.
- It can be termed as an amphibian as it swims and walks on land as well. It hunts for food under water.
- When it swims, using its webbed feet and beaver's tail, its eyes and ears are covered with folds of skin. This prevents water from entering them.
- It is an endothermic animal species which can maintain a body temperature of around 86 degrees F even underwater.
- It is a carnivore: it feeds on insects, small fish and larvae found in the water.
- Duck billed platypuses don't have teeth. So, along with the insects, worms and other food, they also pick up the gravel on the water bed. This helps them to chew their food.
- Just like camels store food in their humps, platypuses can store food in their cheek pouches.
- They have electric signals, which help them to detect food underwater.
- These animals mate underwater and the female lays leathery eggs (2 or 3 at one time) in a burrow near the water. The gestation period for the eggs is just around one month. But the newborns are very tiny and entirely dependent on the mothers.
- The young ones suckle at mammary glands on the stomach for milk.
- The habitat of the platypuses is generally near freshwater rivers/lakes.
Where you can Find Them
- Some places where platypuses are found are Eungella National Park and Carnarvon Gorge (Queensland), Murray river (Victoria), Cradle Mountain National Park (Tasmania), etc.
- Since the platypus is mostly nocturnal, twilight would be the most favorable time to see it.
- Platypuses are very vulnerable to polluted water.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature has marked platypuses as "least concern" on their Red List. This means that it has been evaluated as a species and it does not come under the "Critically Endangered", "Endangered", "Vulnerable" or "Near Threatened" categories.