The Platypus is one of the most interesting mammals in the animal world. They are so unusual that scientists initially thought that it was the victim of a hoax. It is a combination of the familiar species – duck, the beaver and an otter.
Fact 1 Appearance of a Platypus
The platypus is really an interesting creature in every way. It has flat bill and padded feet like a duck, thin and furry body like the otter and a paddle-shaped tail like a beaver. People could hardly believe that it was an actual animal when it was brought to Britain from Australia. A platypus is only 15 inches from head to its rump and the tail is another 5 inches long. It weighs about 3 pounds while the platypus that lives in colder areas is bigger than the ones living in warm climates. It has dense fur and the thickness of the fur keeps it warm under the water. The fur is mostly brown in color with light patches near the eyes and under the body. The skin on the front feet has extra skin and helps it to paddle like the duck. But when it is on land, the skin retracts and the claws become very prominent and it finds it difficult to walk smoothly. It wobbles awkwardly to protect the webbed feet. The bill is however smooth and feels like suede. The bill is rubbery and so it is flexible too. The receptors on the bill help the platypus to detect food like shrimps under the water. The male platypus has a spur on the back side of the hind feet and this is connected to the gland that secretes venom. This venom is used by these animals to compete with mates and not used as a life threatening instrument.
Fact 2. The home of Platypus
Platypuses are found only in a small area of the world. They make their homes where there is freshwater that flow in the Tasmanian Island and the east and south-east coastal areas of Australia. They stay in the water for most of the time. But when they come out of the water they waddle into the banks of the river and dig burrows in the soft mud with their sharp claws. It is amazingly built by the platypuses. The burrows have many chambers or rooms. They also prefer to stay under the rock ledges, debris and roots of trees. Although most of the platypuses are seen in this area, they are found in the colder mountainous areas of Tasmania and Australian Alps and also in the lowlands, tropical rainforests and plateaus. The fur keeps them warm while the tails store extra fat that provide energy to these mammals.
Fact 3. Food they eat
Platypuses are nocturnal animals and so they hunt after dark and the hunt continues for more than 10 hours. So they sleep during the day. Since they are known as carnivores they survive on the animals that they find in the water where they live. They mostly eat insects, shellfish, worms or larvae. They catch the food with their bills and scoop it out from the water and them store it is the pouches that lie in their cheek.
Fact 4 How they are born
Although they are known as mammals, platypuses lay eggs and belong to a special primitive species known as Monotremes. Spiny anteaters also lay eggs although they are mammals. The female lays her eggs in one of the rooms and seals herself. She keeps the eggs warm by covering them with tail and rump. The eggs hatch within 10 days and the mother takes care of them for the next 3 or 4 months till they are able to swim.