Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Charlie. Charlie Wonders, “How many animals in the world are mammals yet lay eggs?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Charlie!
What do you get when you cross a duck with a beaver? Let’s throw in some traits from the otter and the snake as well. If you said a platypus, you’re right!
Of course, the platypus isn’t really a mixture of these other creatures. It just looks like it! The platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal native to Australia (including Tasmania) and Papua New Guinea.
The platypus is one of only five species of monotremes in the world. These are mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. The other four are species of echidna (a mammal that looks a bit like a porcupine).
Have you ever seen a platypus? If so, you know it has a bill like a duck and a tail like a beaver. It has the skin and feet of an otter and even has venom like a snake. These features truly make the platypus one of the most unique creatures on Earth. In fact, scientists once thought the animal was an elaborate hoax.
The name “platypus” comes from the Greek word for “flat-footed.” And being flat isn’t the only unique feature of the animal’s foot. The male platypus has special spurs on its hind feet that it can use to defend itself by injecting venom into a predator. Although the venom isn’t deadly to humans, it can cause severe pain.
The platypus can walk and run on land, but it moves awkwardly. Its webbed feet and waterproof skin help it to live much of the time in the water. There, it feeds on insects, shellfish, worms, and other small creatures at the bottom of bodies of water.
The platypus is mostly nocturnal. It can spend up to 10 hours at a time in water, searching for food. When it’s done swimming, the platypus likes to live in a burrow dug into the bank of a nearby body of water.
The female platypus lays one or two eggs each season. When a baby platypus emerges from its shell, it’s about the size of a lima bean. Its mother will take care of it for three months or so until it’s ready to head out into the world on its own.
Our world is full of interesting creatures. Many see the platypus as one of its most unique! What other animals are you interested in learning more about?
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2