Animal Awareness Tip: Platypus

Maideline Sanchez

What do you get when you mix a duck and a beaver together? A Platypus, of course. They are situated around the Eastern coast of Australia and Tasmania, where they inhabit small streams and rivers. Their bodies and broad, flat tails are covered by dense brown fur, which is used for insulation. They are also set with large rubbery bills and webbed feet. Both males and females are born with sharp spurs attached to their hind feet. However, males are the only ones that carry toxic venom that kills smaller creatures and can leave humans incapacitated due to the excruciating pain that can last anywhere from a few weeks to months.

Out of the three categories of mammals, Platypuses are considered as monotremes, which make them one out of only two mammals that are classified as egg-laying creatures. Mating season for Platypuses begins in June and ends in October. Their mating entails a polygamous relationship among the males and females. While the females are pregnant, they dig burrows of up to 66 feet deep, extensively deeper than normal burrows. At several intervals, they enclose their burrows with plugs to prevent water from entering and predators from capturing their eggs. These eggs will soon be superimposed over fallen leaves and reeds.

An interesting fact about the ovaries of a female Platypus is that the left ovary is the only functional part of the organ. Also, they may lay one to three eggs at a given time, with the eggs being in the uterus for about 28 days. The external incubation lasts about 10 days. After the offspring hatch, they are fed by the mother’s milk, which secretes through the pores of the female’s skin.  After four months, the young emerge from their burrow and gradually begin to live independently.

Did you know?
Monotremes are the only mammals that can detect electric fields emitted by muscular contractions of their prey. A platypus’ senses of electroreception are the most sensitive.