Platypus & Friends
The platypus is one cool creature, don't you think?
For more about it, check out these fun facts:
- Is it for real? About 200 years ago, some people brought a few dead platypuses from Australia to England. English scientists thought these creatures looked too weird to be real. They called them fakes!
- Weird! After all, a platypus has a duck's bill, a beaver's tail, and an otter's feet. Can you blame scientists?
- Seriously? A platypus is one of only a few mammals that lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young.
- Down under wonder: The platypus lives in eastern Australia and spends much of its time in streams.
- Nightime dude: It usually comes out of its burrow as the sun is setting. And it spends most of the night diving underwater. During the day it rests in its burrow. You can see why even most Australians have never seen a platypus in the wild.
- Gobble, gobble? An adult platypus can eat up to half its weight in food every night.
- Cheeky: A platypus doesn't eat underwater. It stuffs its food in its cheek pouches and swims up to the surface. There it floats on the water and munches away.
- Toothless: This animal doesn't have teeth—instead it has tough pads on its upper and lower jaws. It grinds its food between these pads.
- Stand back! A male platypus has a little spur on its hind feet that can deliver nasty venom to anything that gets too close. The venom can do serious harm to humans.
Platypus cousins: Introducing the Echidnas (ih-KID-nuhz)
- Egg-layers: Echidnas are the only other kind of egg-laying mammals.
- How many? There are at least four echidna species.
- Where? They all are close cousins of the platypus, and they live in Australia or in New Guinea, an island country near Australia.
- Spiny one: The short-beaked echidna, looks sort of like a hedgehog. Long spines cover its body. It lives in hollow logs or burrows and dines on ants and termites. How does it get a meal? By shooting out its long sticky tongue!
To find out even more about the platypus and how some people are trying to help it, go to this Web site: www.platypus.asn.au