The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a semi-aquatic monotreme (egg-laying) marsupial (pouched) mammal. It is also known as the Duck-Billed Platypus.
The Platypus has a duck-like beak, webbed feet with sharp claws like an otter, an elongated mole-like body, and a broad, flat, beaver-like tail. Its waterproof fur is brown with a whitish underbelly. The male has a venomous spur on it hind (back) feet. The female has a spur, but it is not venomous. It has small brown eyes and small nostrils.
It grows to about 43-50 centimetres (17-20 inches) in length.
The Platypus is native to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. It is semi-aquatic, living on land and in water. It prefers streams and rivers in highlands and tropical rain forests. It is an excellent swimmer.
It lives in a shallow burrow.
It is mainly nocturnal, active at night. It is a carnivore, eating crustaceans, such as crabs, yabbies, and shrimps. It also eats worms and insect larvae.
Its predators include snakes, water rats, goanna lizards, hawks, owls, and eagles.
The female Platypus digs a deeper burrow to lay her eggs. She lays 1-3 eggs and curls her body around them to keep them warm. The eggs hatch after 10 days. Only the mother looks after her young.
The young are born altricial, which means that they are born blind and hairless. The mother provides her young with milk for 3-4 months. The young come out of the burrow after four months and look for their own food.
It lives, on average, for 10 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM