Population In Wild: 30,000 - 300,000
The platypus (or Ornithorhynchus anatinus), also known as the duck-billed platypus, is a monotreme mammal native to streams, pools and rivers of Eastern Australia including the island of Tasmania. It has thick brown fur, wide webbed and clawed feet, a broad flat tail and a characteristic flat bill. Male platypus measure 16.8in to 24in in length, with a weight of 1.8lb to 5.5lb; whereas females are 15.2in to 22in long, weighing 1.4lb to 4.4lb.
As a near-threatened species the platypus is protected by the Australian government. The species is at risk from habitat fragmentation and had previously been hunted for their furs, though this practice was outlawed in the early 20th century. Population numbers of platypus are difficult to track and compare, though it is assumed overall numbers have declined compared to the period before European colonization of the Australian government.
Platypus are solitary creatures, but females will tolerate another female or male nearby. Males will be aggressive towards each other if they encounter one another.
Male platypus are territorial and will patrol and defend their territory during breeding season, both to defend against rival males and find females to mate with. When he finds a female, she is likely to avoid him at first but gradually accepts closer interactions as she gets used to his presence. During courtship, both will swim past and around each other, until they eventually grasp each other and mate. Afterwards they will go their separate ways again.
The female will incubate the eggs internally for roughly a month, after which she will lay 1 to 3 eggs into the breeding chamber of the burrow. She incubates them externally for an additional 10 days, until they young platypus hatch. The young remain in the burrow for up to 4 months nursing from their mother. Females do not have nipples, instead secrete milk from their mammary glands under the skin, from where the young will scoop it up. Platypus grow extensively after hatching, by 4 months of age they have developed the thick, waterproof fur and are practically independent.
At 2 years old, platypus reach sexual maturity. Both males and females will leave to establish their own home ranges near water, where they can dig their own burrows. Males may begin to defend their new territory soon after reaching sexual maturity.
Freshwater Crustaceans · Mealworms · Whole Fish
Platypus doesn't benefit from sharing space with other species.
- Male platypus are some of the few venomous mammals, they are able to deliver venom through a spur on their hind feet.
- Platypus, as other monotremes, are among the only mammals able to use electro-location to detect their prey in the water.
- When the platypus was first discovered and a specimen sent for examination, it was thought to be a hoax made up of the parts of several animals sewn together.
- As members of the order monotremes, platypus are among the only mammal species to lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. They produce milk to nurse their young, though lack nipples. As such, young platypus will lap the milk off their mother's skin and fur directly.
- Platypus fur bio-fluoresces blue-green under ultraviolet light, it is hypothesized that this adaptation might reduce visibility of the platypus to predators.