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The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is considered to be one of the world’s most unusual mammals. It is often described as a living fossil - a furry, warm-blooded, egg-laying mammal which retains some features of reptiles.

Platypi (Plural of Platypus) hunt underwater, where they swim gracefully by paddling with their front webbed feet and steering with their hind feet and beaverlike tail. Folds of skin cover their eyes and ears to prevent water from entering and the nostrils close with a watertight seal. In this posture, a platypus can remain submerged for a minute or two and employ its sensitive bill to find food.

The Platypus is a bottom feeders. They scoop up insects, larvae, shellfish and worms in their bill along with bits of gravel and mud from the bottom. All this material is stored in cheek pouches and at the surface, mashed for consumption. Platypi do not have teeth, so the bits of gravel help them to “chew” their meal.

On land, Platypi move a bit more awkwardly. However, the webbing on their feet retracts to expose individual nails and allow the creatures to run. Platypi use their nails and feet to construct dirt burrows at the water’s edge.

The Platypus reproduction is really unique. It is one of only two mammals of a group called ‘monotreme’ that lay eggs (the echidna is the other).


In captivity, a Platypi have been observed to remain underwater for up to 14 minutes while resting quietly under a log. When searching actively for food, a platypus will usually remain submerged for less than a minute before returning to the surface to breathe.

Females seal themselves inside one of the burrow’s chambers to lay their eggs. A mother typically produces one or two eggs and keeps them warm by holding them between her body and her tail. The eggs hatch in about ten days but platypus infants are the size of lima beans and totally helpless. Females nurse their young for three to four months until the babies can swim on their own.

Like most diving mammals, the Platypus has blood that is very rich in oxygen-carrying haemoglobin and red cells. The platypus can also reduce its need for oxygen when diving by lowering its heart rate dramatically, from more than 200 beats to less than 10 beats per minute.

Platypus fur is extremely fine and even denser than that of Polar Bears and river otters, with 600-900 hairs covering each square millimetre of skin! Platypus fur also has two layers - a woolly undercoat and longer, shiny guard hairs - which work together to trap a layer of air next to the skin, keeping most of the animal’s body dry even when diving.

For the platypus to stay warm while in the water, its fur must remain completely clean and waterproof and not be fouled by oil or other pollutants.


The beak of a platypus is a rubbery and flexible cartilage.

A platypus lifespan is about 10-15 years, though their life expectancy in the wild is closer to six years

A male platypus is about 50 - 60 cms (20 - 24 inches) long and weighs about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds). A female platypus is about 40 - 50 cms (16-20 inches) long and weighs about .9 kg (2 pounds).

The bill of the platypus has an electro-receptor system that can detect the electric impulses of other creatures’ muscles. The bill also has nostrils on the top that allow the platypus to breathe while the bulk of its body is under water.

The platypus has more haemoglobin in its red blood cells than any other mammal, which enables it to store a lot of oxygen. Its heart rate can also vary from 140 - 230 beats a minute to almost 0 beats per minute.

When a specimen of the platypus was first sent to England, it was believed the Australians had played a joke by sewing the bill of a duck onto a rat.


The male platypus has a poisonous spine that can kill a dog and inflict immense pain on a human.

The baby has molars. An adult platypus has grinding pads in its bill.

The mother platypus curls her body and tail around her eggs to keep them safe and warm.

The most widely accepted name for the plural term is Platypi (as in octopus: Octopi, Stimulus: Stimuli, Hippopotamus Hippopotami). Scientists have used several terms in the past: Platypuses and Platypoda.

In the early 1900’s platypuses were hunted for their fur.

They swim with their eyes, ears and nose shut.





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AngryPlatypusWalking_Sm.gif PlatypusBouncingSoccerBallOnTail_Sm.gif PlatypusBouncingSoccerBallOnTailRight_Sm.gif PlatypusSwimmingLeft_Sm.gif PlatypusSwimming_Sm.gif PlatypusSwimmingOnBack_Sm.gif PlatypusSwimmingOnBackLeft_Sm.gif PlatypusSwimmingBackstroke_Sm.gif PlatypusSwimmingBackstrokeLeft_Sm.gif PlatypusTappingFoot_Sm.gif PlatypusWithDukesUp_Sm.gif WordPlatypusSwimmingOnBack_Sm.gif

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