Duck-billed platypus

Ornithorhynchus anatinus

Fascinating Facts

  • The platypus was originally thought to be a duck head on a beaver body and a hoax when the first pelt was sent to Europe in 1798.
  • There is no agreed-upon plural for platypus in the English language.
  • Males have venomous stingers on the heels of their hind feet.
  • When diving for food, folds of skin cover their eyes and ears to prevent water from entering, and their nostrils seal closed.
  • The platypus and the echidna are the only egg-laying mammals.
  • Females seal themselves in mud burrows to incubate their 1-2 eggs, nursing them for 3-4 months after they hatch.

Habitat/Diet

Crepuscular and semi-aquatic, they prefer rivers and streams with beds suitable for digging burrows. Platypuses are carnivores that feed on worms, crustaceans, and insect larvae. They hunt via electrosensory reception through their beak and scoop up gravel along with their food to grind up their prey, as they lack teeth.

Status in the Wild

Least Concern – IUCN 2008

Range

Freshwater rivers and lakes in eastern Australia and Tasmania

Location in the Zoo

Mammals Zone of the Sculpture Learning Plaza

Animals & Exhibits

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