Platypus Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

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.

The platypus is a very unique kind of animal. In this lesson, you will learn about the platypus, where it lives, what it likes to eat, how it protects itself and some other cool facts.

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.

Platypus with Unique Features

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.

Swimming Platypus
Swimming Platypus

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.

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