Platypus Facts
Platypus Facts

27 Interesting Platypus Facts

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published November 21, 2019
  • The platypus is an egg-laying mammal found exclusively in eastern Australia, including Tasmania.[1]
  • The platypus has an extremely unique combination of features: it has clawed hindfeet, webbed forefeet, a tail that resembles that of a beaver, and a bill, like a duck.[1]
  • The platypus and the echidna are the only members of the monotreme branch of mammals. The other two branches are the placentals and the marsupials.[1]
  • When preserved specimens of the platypus were first sent to Europe in the late 1700s, naturalists there thought the animal was a fake and had simply been stitched together from different animals by a skilled taxidermist.[1]
  • Although the female platypus lays eggs instead of giving live birth, once her young hatch, she suckles them with milk made in her own body, just like other mammals.[1]
  • The platypus is one of two families of mammals that lay eggs instead of giving live birth to their young. The other family is the echidna family, also found only in Australia.[1]
  • Platypus Echidna
    The platypus and the echidna are the only known monotremes in the world

  • Although a common name for the platypus is the duck-billed platypus, the bill of a platypus is not really like a duck’s bill—where the duck’s bill is hard, the platypus' bill is soft and pliable, allowing it to forage for food underwater.[1]
  • Although the platypus has juvenile teeth that fall out at a certain age, just like humans, those teeth are not replaced with more teeth; instead, the platypus grows keratin pads in place of teeth.[1]
  • The adult platypus has no teeth, so when it catches its prey, it stores it in its bill, along with little bits of gravel. It then submerges and uses the gravel to mash up its food until it is pliable enough to swallow.[2]
  • Swimming Platypus
    They have more in common with ducks than the bills
  • The platypus is an excellent swimmer and has waterproof fur.[1]
  • Whereas most other aquatic mammals use their back feet to swim, the platypus propels itself through water by paddling with its front two limbs.[1]
  • A platypus can remain underwater for 2 minutes; before diving, it seals the nostrils on its bill, which remain watertight until the platypus comes up for air.[2]
  • The male platypus has spurs above its hind legs that it can use to pierce and insert venom into its enemies. Humans who have been pierced report that the venom caused their hands and arms to swell up and lock-jaw to set in, accompanied by severe pain that lasts for weeks.[1]
  • Because of the threat of being spurred by a male platypus, zookeepers and researchers  generally pick up a platypus by its tail, unless they are sure it is a female.[1]
  • Australia Platypus
    Australia is proud of its unique animals
  • The 20-cent coin in Australia has the image of a platypus on it.[2]
  • Baby platypuses hatch after 10 days and then nurse for up to four months.[2]
  • Until the magazine National Geographic published a picture of a platypus in 1939, most of the world had never heard of the platypus.[5]
  • The platypus will sometimes bury its bill into mud and then wiggle it to attract prey.[5]
  • Platypus babies are born blind and without their waterproof fur.[5]
  • The platypus is a nocturnal animal.[5]
  • The platypus was one of the mascots for the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney, Australia.[5]
  • There was a period of time when people wore platypus fur, but the fad has now passed, and the platypus is protected from hunting by laws.[5]
  • Duck-Bill Platypus
    For such a strange creature, they sure are cute
  • One nickname for the platypus is the duck mole because it resembles both of these species.[5]
  • To date, the oldest platypus fossil found is over 100,000 years old.[5]
  • The platypus differs from all other mammals in another way: it can send out electrical impulses to locate prey in deep waters.[3]
  • There are a lot of extra-large nerves throughout the platypus’s bill; these nerves send messages to the platypus’s face and allow it to sense the responses to its electrical impulses without the use of sight, sound, or smell.[3]
  • The platypus has been featured in several different cartoon shows. Its most popular appearance was as Perry the Platypus, from the Disney Channel show Phineas and Ferb, but platypus characters have also been featured in Camp Lazlo and Taz-Mania.[4]

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