The duck billed platypus is a small and shy animal. Their heads and bodies are flattened, which helps them move through the water. Their thick, dark brown fur on top and tan fur on their bellies keep them warm and dry even after swimming for hours.
The head and body of a duck-billed platypus grow to about 15 inches (38 cm), and its tail grows to about 5 inches (13 cm) (13 centimeters). The most amazing thing about them is their nose. It looks like a duck’s bill, but it is soft and has a lot of receptors on it that help the Platypus find food.
Males are also venomous. They have sharp stingers on the back of their feet, which they can use to deal a strong, poisonous blow to any enemy.
What Does Duck Billed Platypus Eat?
Most of the time, platypus animal spends alone, sleeping or eating. These animals eat what is on the ground. They pick up bugs, larvae, shellfish, worms, and bits of gravel and mud from the bottom with their bill. All of this stuff is kept in cheek pouches and eaten when it comes to the surface. Since Platypus don’t have teeth, the gravel helps them “chew” their food.
Platypuses have long lives. In captivity, they can live for 20 years or more, and in the wild, they can live for up to 12 years. Scientists think that these interesting animals are the ancestors of all modern mammals. Recent research shows that they first appeared more than 112 million years ago, which is long before the dinosaurs died out.
Where Is Platypus Found
The Platypus is common in the waterways of eastern Australia. It usually eats invertebrates that live on the bottom, but it will also take a frog, fish, or insect from the surface of the water. This shy animal hunts most often from dusk until dawn. During the day, it hides in burrows it digs into stream banks. Its body is flattened and shaped like a torpedo, its fur is thick and waterproof, and its front legs are strong so it can swim and dig at the same time. Even the head is slim, with a groove for each ear and a small hole for each eye.
When a platypus goes underwater to eat, it can’t see, smell, or hear. However, it has a unique electromechanical system made up of electroreceptors and touches receptors that help it navigate perfectly underwater. Electroreceptors like these are also found in echidnas, which, along with the Platypus, make up the order of mammals called Monotremata. This is a unique group with a very long history.
The platypus animal uses its complex electromechanical system to pick up on tiny electrical signals that its prey’s muscles send out. After eating, it goes back to its burrow, which only the duck platypus can fit into. The burrow’s entrance is big enough to squeeze any extra water out of the fur.
The duck wild platypus lives in areas as different as the highlands of Tasmania, the Australian Alps, and the lowlands near the sea. Even though it has been seen swimming in salt water, the Platypus must eat in freshwater because that is where its electrical system for navigating works. The Platypus lives in both east-flowing and west-flowing river systems in all eastern Australian states except for far northern Queensland. Unlike its relatives, the echidnas, it does not seem to have moved to the island of New Guinea.
When Are Platypuses Active?
Platypuses are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular), but they can also be active during the day, depending on the season, the amount of cloud cover, the amount of food in the stream, and even the individual. No one knows if Platypus sleeps during the winter. But their body temperature is about 32 °C (90 °F), which is low for a mammal. Studies have shown that they can keep their body temperature stable even after being in the water as cold as 4 °C (39 °F) for long periods of time. This disproves the idea that monotremes can’t control their body temperature.
What Do Platypus Look Like?
Platypuses are about 15 to 24 inches long and can be anywhere from 38 to 60 cm long. Males are usually bigger than females. The platypus animal has adapted to life in water by having a flat, streamlined body, eyes and nose on the top of its head, and thick, waterproof fur that keeps it warm.
Long guard hairs protect the soft underfur, and the underfur stays dry even after hours in the water. The webbing on the front feet is very long and goes past the claws. This is important for the animal to move through the water. The tail, which looks like a paddle, acts as a stabilizer while swimming, and the back feet are used to steer and stop.
Platypuses have strange bones, like an old, strong shoulder girdle and a short, wide humerus that gives their strong front legs a lot of places to attach muscles. The skin on the outside of the bill is soft and sensitive. Adult platypuses don’t have real teeth inside their bills. Instead, they have flat pads of hardened gum tissue.
Male platypuses have a spur on the inside of each ankle that is connected to a venom gland above the thighs. The spurs can be used for defense, and the venom is strong enough to kill small animals and cause a lot of pain if the spur goes through a person’s skin.
Life cycle of Duck Billed Platypus
Even though platypus animals are common in the wild, not much is known about their life cycle, and only a few have been kept successfully in captivity. The platypus animal males and females stay away from each other unless they are mating, which doesn’t happen until they are at least four years old. During the breeding season, the males often fight, and their sharp ankle spurs are used to hurt each other.
How Do Duck Billed Platypus Attract Mates?
Courtship and mating take place in the water from the end of winter to the beginning of spring. When mating happens depends on latitude; it happens earlier in the more northern parts of the range and later in the more southern parts. Mating is hard work. In one case, the male was seen tightly gripping the female’s tail with his bill as she led him on a long chase.
Males do not help raise the young. Females make special nesting burrows for their young, where they usually lay two small, leathery eggs.
The duck-billed Platypus is pregnant for at least two weeks and maybe up to a month. The duck billed platypus eggs hatch after another 6 to 10 days. The female incubates the eggs by wrapping her tail around them and putting her bill on top of them. Each baby duck billed Platypus comes out of its egg with the help of an egg tooth and a fleshy nub (caruncle), both of which come from the animal’s reptilian past.
The baby duck billed Platypus gets milk from special hairs on the mother’s breast. They stay in the burrow and nurse for three to four months before they can live on their own. In the first 14 weeks of life, a platypus’s weight often increases by 20. Hatchlings have teeth that fall out soon after they leave the burrow to find food on their own.
Males and females are fully grown between 12 and 18 months and sexually mature around 18 months. Small animals live a long time. Some studies have found people who have lived in the wild for more than 20 years. The Platypus can live in a cage for almost 23 years.
FAQs: Duck billed Platypus
Do Duck Billed Platypus Lay Eggs
Yes, they are mammals but lay eggs.
Are Duck Billed Platypuses Venomous
The Platypus is known for being one of the few mammals that lay eggs. It is also one of the few mammals that can bite. The males can give a mega-sting that hurts like hundreds of hornet stings at once and is so painful that the victim can’t move for weeks.
Is The Duck Billed Platypus Poisonous
The Platypus is one of the few mammals that can make its own poison. Venom is made in glands that are attached to hollow spurs on their back legs. Most of the venom is made during mating season. Even though the effects of the venom are said to be very painful, it does not kill humans.
Is The Duck Billed Platypus Extinct
No, they are not extinct.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.