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Roger Weller, geology instructor

Duck-Billed Platypus
by Maggie Monahan
Historical Geology
Spring 2007

Duck-Billed Playtpus



The duck-billed platypus is part of the mammal family called Ornithorhynchidae.  The scientific name is the Ornithorhynchus Anatinusacropus.  The word platypus comes from two Greeks words platys meaning broad and pous meaning foot.  The platypuses were first discovered in the late 1700ís by Europeans.  They have webbed feet such as those of a duck, and a bill is shaped like a duck also.  They have a tail shaped like a beaver.  They also have a flat streamlined body.  The male platypus can grow to be up to 65 cm long and its tail can grow to be about 12 to 15 cm.  The only parts of the body that are covered with fur are its trunk, tail and its head.  The color of the fur is dark brown.  Their fur is also waterproofed which is very rare for underwater mammals.  Platypus can live to be the age of about seventeen years old.  The limbs on the back toe are filled with poisonous venom.  The venom can be deadly to humans and especially to their enemies (predators).         




Food Source

The duck billed platypusís food source includes eating insects such as larva, freshwater shrimp, frogs, fish eggs and bivalve mollusks.  When they find food they store their food source in their cheek pouches.  Then they swim to dry land out of the water and separate their food and eat it.  Then they store all of their food in their tails. 

Platypus #6    

Interesting Facts 

The duck - billed platypuses are not fast swimmers but they are great swimmers.  It swims with itís front feet only by the vibrations of the water.  They also, have and awesome sense of hearing and sight.  They have poisonous venom that is very deadly to its predators.  Their bill is electro-sensitive.  They also make noise to communicate.  The platypus makes a sound like a hen that is angry, and like a little puppy dog that is growling.   




The platypuses lives and are found in Eastern Australia.  They live in rivers and freshwater streams.  Also, they are in places called burrows.  It is there where they dig in the burrows along streams and rivers where they find their source of food.


Image:Platypus Distribution.png

Predators (enemies) 

Just like any other animal the platypus has predators.   Some of the predators live on land and others live in the water.  Their enemies include cats, dogs, foxes, crocodiles, water-rates, pythons, eagles, hawks, owls, and goannas.  As I mentioned before they use their poisonous venom on their enemies.  When they are on land and feel threatened they use their venom and then swim back into the water.  



Unlike other mammals platypus lay eggs instead of giving birth.  They are the only mammals that lay eggs.  The female platypus lays only two eggs.  And they are in the belly for only four months.  When the female platypus is done laying eggs the mother provides milk for their young.  They do not have nipples.  They use their glands which they store their milk and provide the milk for their young.  The young drink up the milk for nutrients and so that they can grow to be adult size.  The young leave their mother when they are about six weeks old.  And by that time period they have fur.  By about five months the young are weened so that they eat other sources of food other than just drinking milk.




Sources to find the information: