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Ornithorhynchus anatinus

These very unusual animals have webbed feet. The fore feet are used for swimming, the back feet as brakes and for steering. The bill of the Platypus is soft and very sensitive, the skin of the bill has touch receptors which are used to receive information about its surroundings, and is also sensitive to the slight electric currents generated by its prey. The eyes and ear apertures, as well as the nostrils are closed whilst under the water. The fur is long and sleek on top, but underneath has extremely thick underfur which remains dry.




The infant Platypus has milk teeth, but these are not replaced when shed. It is interesting to note that fossils found, indicate that the Platypus once upon a time had better developed teeth that were not shed. Food is collected in the water, being mainly invertebrates, both larval and adult, it is sifted from the bottom, stored in large cheek-pouches until it surfaces where whilst resting, the food is broken up between the tongue and the horny grinding plates and shearing ridges on the upper and lower jaws. Larger prey is eaten individually.

Breeding occurs in our local area around September, the female will lay 1 or 2 eggs which she incubates against her abdomen for about 2 weeks, she will at this stage be inside a blocked off nest at the end of a long burrow called a breeding burrow. The young Platypus will suckle the mother for 4 -5 months, milk is excreted through the skin on the abdomen, they have no teats.

Platypus Much Older Than Thought, Lived with Dinosours

Scott Norris
for National Geographic News

January 22, 2008


Updated March 2021  

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