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July 13 2011 4 13 /07 /July /2011 10:10

The platypus is an intermediate between mammals and reptiles, as it lays eggs, but is warm-blooded and can secrete milk. It is a semi-aquatic creature found in eastern Australia, where it inhabits lakes and streams in a territory of about five square kilometres. It is carnivorous, but it is itself victim of predatory lizards and birds. Its young spend several months in the nest before emerging. This articles makes you learn more about the platypus.

Between mammal and reptile

Monotremes

Monotremes are classed as mammals, but they lay eggs and exude milk, not through teats, but through pores in the skin. There is one species of platypus, Ornithorhynchus anina, and no sub-species. It has a duck beak and a paddle like tail, which it uses for swimming. Platypuses are four-legged, but their forelegs have webbed feet. They are from 0.8-2.5 kilograms in weight and can reach 60 centimetres in length. In the wild, lifespan is up to 10 years, but up to 17 in captivity.

Habitat

The duckbill platypus is native to eastern Australia and Tasmania. Its natural habitat is freshwater rivers, streams and lakes, so it is absent from the more barren parts of Australia. The platypus diet is the invertebrates found in these waters, such as water snails and other creatures. However, it will eat frogs, fish and insects. It hunts with its flexible bill, which contains electrical and tactile receptors to detect prey. It closes its eyes, ears and nostrils to protect them from the water when swimming.

For defence, the males have a horny spur that contains venom. Platypus venom can kill smaller creatures, but can only cause a human being great pain. However, the platypus is itself the victim of predators further up the food chain, against whom it has no defence. These include monitor lizards and several bird species such as eagles and owls. However, as the platypus is nocturnal, it has some defence against lizards, which are weak at night, but not against owls.

The young

Breeding season is from July to October, which is the Australian late winter to spring. The females lay up to three soft-shelled eggs. Platypus young hatch from eggs in their mother's nest in lake and stream banks. They are blind at first and locate their mother by touch, feeding on milk exuding from her skin. They are not marsupials, so have no pouch for the young. After about four months, they emerge from the nest and are ready to enter the water.

Vogelbekdier / Duck-billed platypusPlatypus

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