Platypus Facts

If you've ever wondered what a platypus is, what it does or what it looks like, we've go the answers in these Platypus Facts.

What is a platypus?

Platypus Facts

Platypus are unique Australian animals. They are small mammals (about the size of a cat) which lay eggs and feed their young milk. They have a tail like a beaver, a body like an otter, webbed feet, a bill like a bird and walk like a reptile.

Where are platypus found?

Platypus are found on the east coast of Australia and in Tasmania.

They live in freshwater rivers or lakes. Platypus build burrows in mud banks for protection and shelter.

When are platypus most active?

Platypus are mainly nocturnal, being the most active at night. They spend a lot of time on their own eating or sleeping. They sleep for up to 17 hours each day.

What do platypus eat?

Platypus frantically swim around in water at night searching for food to eat: shellfish, insects larvae and worms. They are carnivores (animals which feed on other animals).

How do platypus catch their food?

The locate their food using electrolocation. When the platypus digs in the bottoms of streams, electroreceptors in its soft bill to detect tiny electrical currents created by the muscles of its prey. When hunting, the platypus swims with its eyes, nostrils and ears closed and relies solely on its bill for feel for the food.

Any food they catch is stored in cheek pouches. The platypus then eats the food when it returns to the surface of the water.

Platypus have no teeth but use a pad of rough skin near their throat to grind up food before swallowing.

How do much do platypus eat?

Platypus can eat as much as their own body weight of food within a 24 hour period. That's a lot of food to consume! Imagine eating the same amount of food as you weigh!

What makes platypus great swimmers?

Platypus use their front webbed feet to power them through the water. Their back feet and tail are used to brake and steer. They normally stay submerged underwater for 2 minutes before returning to the surface for air. They can hold their breath for up to 10 minutes.

How do platypus stay warm?

Platypus have three layers within their furry coat. The first layer, closest to the skin, keeps the platypus warm by trapping air. The next layer repels water and provides an insulating coat. The final layer consists of long flat hairs which help to platypus to detect objects close by.

How big are platypus?

Platypus are about the size of a cat (30 centimetres to 45 centimetres in length) and weigh between 1 to 2.4 kilograms.

Are all platypus poisonous?

The male platypus is larger than the female. Male platypus are venomous while females are not. The males have a pointy spur on their hind ankles which they use when fighting with other males or to defend themselves.

The poison from a male platypus will not kill a human but will cause an extremely painful wound. So it's definitely best not to be stung by a male platypus!

How many eggs does a female platypus lay?

Before laying her eggs in late winter or early spring, a female platypus will dig a very long burrow (approximately 30 metres, or 100 feet, long). She lines this nursery burrow with leaves and then lays between 2 to 4 eggs. She will curl up to incubate her eggs for 2 weeks.

Like many reptiles which hatch from an egg, baby platypus have a temporary egg tooth. This is used to help them break out of their egg.

The mother platypus blocks the entrance of the nursery burrow with dirt to prevent any predators from entering. She then feeds her young platypus milk for up to four months.

How long does a platypus live?

Platypus live for approximately 12 years in the wild. They can live up to 20 years in captivity.

What are the enemies of a platypus?

The predators of platypus include dingoes, large snakes, foxes, eels, rats and goannas. Humans also cause problems for platypus by destroying platypus' habitats when dams are built and throw pollution.

Can platypus make sounds?

Platypus are very shy creatures which rarely make a noise. They can create a high-pitched squeal when threatened.

What family of animals does a platypus belong to?

Platypus belong to a family of animals called monotremes. These are egg-laying mammals which feed their young milk. There are only animals in the monotremes group. One is the platypus and the other is the echidna. Both are found in Australia.

Do platypus make good pets?

It is illegal to keep a platypus as a pet. Platypus are native Australian animals which are protected by law. There are very strict government controls about keeping platypus in captivity so that very few zoos are even able to keep platypus.

Apart from that, it would be extremely difficult to provide a suitable habitat for a platypus in your backyard. They are very sensitive to ecology changes.

As well, platypus are very shy, nocturnal creatures ... and the males are poisonous.

So while platypus are enormously cute, they don't make great pets.

However, you can always get a toy platypus ... or listen to this terrific platypus song! Be warned though, once this platypus song gets in your head, you'll have trouble getting it out again!!! It's great!!!

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A Plucky Australian Platypus
A Plucky Australian Platypus
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Bump Word Game

Return to the Articles List for other children's learning activities or children's book reviews.

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