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Duckbill Platypus image
Duckbill Platypus

Duckbill Platypus

(Mammal)

Duckbill Platypus Baby
Duckbill Platypus Baby

Duckbill Platypus Habits

The duckbill platypus always lives near water—mostly in the rivers of eastern Australia and Tasmania. It nests in tunnels that it digs in the riverbanks or it lives in deep crevices and little caves in rocky banks. Its tunnels can run 50 feet long or more.
The platypus is amphibious (lives both on land and in water) and dives and swims well. It is a loner except during breeding season and is territorial, defending its own stretch of river from intruders.
The platypus uses its strong webbed front feet for both swimming and burrowing. When it walks on land it curls its feet under its body to protect them.

Duckbill Platypus Communication

Platypuses are Monotremes, the only mammals known to have a sense of electro reception (the ability to receive and make use of electrical impulses). Their electro reception is the most sensitive of any monotreme. The electro receptors of the Platypus are located in rostro-caudal rows in the skin of the bill.
The Platypus can determine the direction of an electric source, perhaps by comparing differences in signal strength across the sheet of electro receptors. This would explain the animal's characteristic side-to-side motion of its head while hunting.
The Platypus feeds by digging in the bottom of streams with its bill. The electro receptors could be used to distinguish live and dead objects in this situation. When disturbed, its prey would generate tiny electrical currents in their muscular contractions which the sensitive electro receptors of the Platypus could detect. Experiments have shown that the Platypus will even react to an 'artificial shrimp' if a small electrical current is passed through it.

Duckbill Platypus Breeding

The male and female platypus mate between August and October. The pair court by swimming around each other. Then the female platypus digs a long nesting tunnel in the riverbank with a chamber as its end. The nesting tunnel is longer than the platypus's home tunnel-it may be as long as 65 feet.
The female collects grass and leaves, grasps them under her tail, and carries them back to the tunnel to construct a nest. There she lays two white, soft- shelled eggs that she incu- bates by holding them snugly between her tail and belly. Each egg is about the size of a marble.
The hatching period is variable. After one to two cheek pouches are full, the platypus surfaces and discards any sand and stones it has weeks the eggs hatch and the young make their way through their mother's fur to suckle at her milk glands. picked up, then grinds the food between horny plates it has instead of teeth.
The young stay in the burrow up to five months and continue to suckle after they have left the burrow. Above: Broad front feet make the platypus a powerful underwater swimmer, while smaller hind feet provide agility.

Duckbill Platypus Food & Feeding

The platypus hunts in the water for prey such as insect larvae, water snails, and small crustaceans.
Underwater it closes its eyes, ears, and nostrils and sweeps its broad bill from side to side to locate prey. The bill is soft and pliable, not hard like a duck's, and is highly sensitive.
The platypus swims along using its front feet only. Most of its dives last between 30 seconds and a minute and a half. It sometimes remains underwater by wedging it- self beneath a log or under a stone.
On the river bottom, the platypus fills pouches in its cheeks with food. When its Left: The platypus's beak is the ideal tool for feeding on the beds of slow rivers and streams.

Duckbill Platypus Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: male 1 1/2 to 2 feet. Female: Up to 1 1/2 feet
              Weight: About 4 pounds
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 2 years
             Mating: August to October
             Gestation: 1-2 weeks
             Number of young: Usually 2, sometimes 1 or 3
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Solitary
            Diet: Aquatic invertebrates
            Lifespan: 10 years in the wild. 17 years in captivity

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The platypus is one of the most primitive mammals in existence. The only other mammals that lay eggs are the platypus's only relatives, the echidnas.
  • The platypus's body temperature is 90° F., which is low for a mammal.
  • When the first specimen of this mammal was exhibited in England in the late 1700s people thought it was a fake. Scientists believed a prankster had sewn a duck's beak onto a mammal's body.
  • While both male and female platypuses are born with ankle spurs, only the male's spurs produce venom which can be deadly.
  • The duckbill platypus can squeeze through narrow spaces. Its flexible body is a strong muscular tube.

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