Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.
What is a Platypus?
Imagine walking along a riverbank when suddenly, in the water, you see an animal that has a nose like a duck bill, an otter-shaped body covered in fur, and a flat tail that looks like it should be attached to a beaver. You haven't been out in the sun too long. You've just seen a platypus!
A platypus (pronounced PLA-ti-puss) is a small, venomous, dark brown mammal that spends a lot of time in the water, lays eggs, has webbed feet, thick fur and a duck-like bill.
Platypuses look like several different, mismatched animals that have gotten all jumbled up together. Their appearance isn't the only thing unique about them, however.
They are mammals, which means they feed milk to their young and have fur covering a lot of their skin. Most mammals have live babies, but platypuses are only one of two kinds of mammals that lay eggs.
Most mammals aren't venomous, either, but the male platypus is. It has pointy, poisonous barbs on its rear feet that it can use to sting an enemy. Although it isn't usually deadly for people, a platypus sting is very painful. These odd looking animals may seem cute, but are not to be messed with!
Where do Platypuses Live?
Platypuses are only found in the wild in a small area of Australia, close to rivers and streams, and in Australian rainforests, though you may have seen one at the zoo.
They spend most of their time in the water, and their fur is waterproof so they stay dry and don't get cold. Their webbed feet make it easy to swim and dive, and they can completely close up their nose so water doesn't get in.
They do spend some time out of the water and use their long claws to dig their burrows on land where they live alone and rest during the day. They sometimes live under overhanging rocks as well.
Platypuses can pull back the webbing on their feet to protect it when they aren't swimming. They look a little clumsy on land, like when you get out of the pool and try to walk with plastic flippers on your feet.
What do Platypuses Eat?
Platypuses are carnivores, which means they eat meat. They are usually most active at night and may spend up to 12 hours hunting for snacks in the water. You will find things like worms, insects, fish eggs and shellfish on the platypus menu!
Platypuses can feel electrical currents made by their prey, which is how they find their food, since their eyes are closed when they swim. This is another unique skill that most mammals don't have.
Once they have located a meal at the river bottom, they shovel it in their mouth, along with sand and rocks, and take it up to the top of the water.
Platypuses have no teeth, but do have special plates that can crush food. They use the sand and rocks they picked up with their food to help grind it up, like a blender!
A platypus is a small, venomous, dark brown mammal that spends a lot of time in the water, lays eggs, has webbed feet, thick fur and a duck-like bill. It is a mammal, feeding milk to its young. Platypuses are carnivores, eating only meat, and hunt for their food during the night at the bottom of streams and rivers.
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