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Platypus Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

One of the most unique animals in nature is the platypus. In this lesson, learn about the physical characteristics and skills that help this mammal survive in the wild.

Animal Combination

A song mashup is a combination of several different tunes. Did you know there is an animal mashup that mixes features from a duck, a beaver, and an otter? This mashup is the amazing platypus! This animal is so strange that when people first heard of it, they though it was a joke! This mammal is only found in the eastern part of Australia.

Platypuses are native to the fresh waters of eastern Australia.
aerial image of continent

Platypuses are pretty cool creatures. These animals have special adaptations--physical characteristics and skills that enable them to survive in the wild. Let's learn about some of these amazing features.

Males and Females

Male platypuses can be pretty dangerous. To stay safe from predators like crocodiles and pythons, males have stingers in their back feet. These stingers are venomous, which means they contain deadly poison.

Female platypuses are unusual because, although they are mammals, they lay eggs (most mammals give birth to live babies). Platypus females dig deep tunnels underground called burrows, and this is where they lay their eggs. Once a baby platypus hatches, it cannot survive on its own right away. The mother takes care of it for several months until it is ready to swim and survive independently.

Swimming Adaptations

When you see a duck floating on a pond, it looks calm and peaceful, right? But below the water's surface, the duck has webbed feet that are paddling furiously. Those same kind of feet belong to a platypus. Their front feet are used to paddle, and their back feet help them go in the right direction. Also helpful in steering is their tail, which is very similar to a flat tail of a beaver.

The platypus has webbed feet just like a duck, and this adaptation helps them swim quickly in Australian waters.
Australian animal

Waterproofing

Since platypuses are in the water frequently, their bodies have special adaptations that help them to survive for long periods of time under water. There are small flaps of skin that can cover the eyes and ears of a platypus, which means water won't bother them. They can also close their nostrils, and then they are able to stay in the water for several minutes.

Platypuses have special facial features that enable them to stay underwater for long periods of time.
Australian mammal

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