One of Australia's most unique and unusual native animals, the platypus is an egg-laying mammal which lives on land and hunts for food in the freshwater creeks and rivers of eastern Australia. Once incorrectly thought to be the most primitive mammal, it is now regarded as a superb example of adaptation. Questions and answers about platypuses can be found here.

4,490 Questions

What are the only mammals that lay eggs?

There are two types of egg-laying mammals. The platypusand the echidna are both egg-laying mammals, or monotremes. They are still classified as mammals because they feed their young on mothers' milk - a characteristic unique to mammals alone.

Within these two types of animals, there are just threeknown species of egg-laying mammals, or monotremes. They are the platypus of Australia; the short-beaked echidna(Tachyglossus aculeatus) of Australia and Papua New Guinea; and the long-beaked echidna (Zaglosssus bruijni) of New Guinea. The echidna is sometimes called the spiny anteater, and there are several sub-species of the long-beaked echidna: the Western long-beaked echidna, Sir David's long-beaked echidna and the Eastern long-beaked echidna.


What do platypuses eat?

Platypuses are carnivores. They are predators; they eat small water animals such as aquatic insect larvae of caddisflies, mayflies and two-winged flies, fresh water shrimp, annelid worms, yabbies and crayfish. During summer, they eat more than during winter, in order to build up reserves of fat.

To catch their prey, platypuses must make several hundred dives a day in order to catch enough food. They use the fine, sensitive electroreceptors on their bills, which detect the tiny electrical impulses made by underwater creatures. After locating their prey, they dig up the mud with their bill to grasp them, crushing the creatures between grinding plates in their bills.

Baby platypuses drink mother's milk.

It should be noted that platypuses do not generally eat frogs, tadpoles, fish or plants. Analysis of platypus pellets has - rarely - indicated the presence of fish or frog parts, but on the whole, platypuses do not feed on these creatures.

Zoology or Animal Biology

What are the mating habits of the platypus?

Platypus courtship rituals involve the male chasing the female around in a circle. They have a complex system of side-passing, under-passing and over-passing each other, until the male finally grasps the female's tail in his bill, and they continue circling tightly until mating occurs.

Animal Life

What is the reproductive system of a platypus?

Unlike most mammals, the platypus has a cloaca (one exit hole for waste and eggs). The platypus uses internal sexual reproduction (they use intercourse to deliver sperm to the female). The baby develops inside the female in an egg. The egg(s) are laid in a burrow.

Another mammal with a cloaca is the echidna (It is also called the spiny anteater, but it is not at all related to other anteaters, it's just its nickname.)

Semi-Aquatic Mammals

Does a platypus have a streamlined body shape?

Yes. Like many semi-aquatic mammals, the platypus has a streamlined body. This enables the platypus to swim and dive faster.


Where does the platypus live?

Platypuses are found in eastern Australia alone.

Platypuses live throughout eastern coastal Australia and its island state of Tasmania, particularly within heavily wooded and protected regions. They are found from the cooler sub-alpine areas in the south, such as Victoria and the Tasmanian highlands, north through New South Wales to tropical far north Queensland. Platypuses live in bushland as well as tropical, sub-tropical and temperate rainforests.


Do platypuses breathe under water?

No. In fact, no mammal can breathe underwater, including marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and dugongs.

Platypuses can hold their breath for an average of 1-2 minutes at a time, so must make hundreds of dives every day to obtain enough food to eat. If threatened, they can lie still and are capable of holding their breath for a maximum of eight to ten minutes.


Can beavers and platypus live in the same ecosystem?

No. Beavers and platypuses are from different continents.

Endangered, Vulnerable, and Threatened Species

Is a platypus native to north America?

Not at all.

The platypus is endemic to Australia, meaning it is not found anywhere else.


Do platypuses nurse?

Platypuses do feed their young on mothers' milk, but the young do not suckle from teats. The mother platypus secretes milk from glands on her abdomen, which the young platypus drinks, but she does not develop teats.

Cryptids and Legendary Creatures

What mythical creatures lay eggs?

The ones that are closely related to fish or reptiles.

EXAMPLE: Dragons


Is the platypus endangered?

The platypus, although found only in the country of Australia (which includes the island state of Tasmania) is notendangered. It is not listed on the IUCN Redlist (endangered species list).

There was a time when the platypus was under threat, being particularly prized for its fur years ago. In the past it came closer to extinction but it now has protection by law in the National Parks and Wildlife Act of 1974 (from hunters and fishermen), and the population has grown back to a healthy size. However, there are concerns regarding the destruction of their habitat and awareness of this problem is increasing. The use of fishing nets is still something of a problem, even though it is illegal now to use fishing nets in freshwater rivers and creeks, as the platypuses can become entangled.

The Australian Government lists the platypus as "common but vulnerable". The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the platypus as "least concern". Platypuses are now strictly protected by law. The platypus is vulnerable because of habitat loss through deforestation, dams and irrigation projects. They have disappeared from South Australia.

Tasmanian platypuses are subject to a disease caused by the fungus Mucor amphibiorum, which has fortunately not migrated to the mainland. Affected animals often develop skin lesions or ulcers, and the biggest threat to their survival arises from secondary infection. This can affect the platypus's ability to maintain body temperature and to hunt properly for food on the bottom of rivers and creeks.


Do tigers eat platypuses?

No, they do not.

The main reason being because the platypus is native to Australia. And there are no tigers native to Australia.

However if tigers were native to Australia, it is likely they would hunt and eat platypuses if they were very hungry. To a tiger, the platypus wouldn't be very filling, so they would prefer larger prey, like a kangaroo.


What do Opossums eat?

Opossums eat:

  • all green and yellow vegetables, like corns
  • quantities of grasses
  • most types of fruit
  • carrion
  • people food
  • snails, slugs, and earth worms of all types
  • insects, flies, earwigs and roaches etc.
  • rats and mice
  • snakes
  • amphibians
  • ground eggs
  • crayfish and other fish if available
  • certain types of dog food and cat food left outside to feed pets
  • dead pigs
  • small birds
  • voles
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • apples
  • chicken
  • rodents
  • over-ripe fruit

It eats small animals, insects, and fruit, and sometimes domestic poultry and cultivated grain.

Opossums can survive on almost anything they can find, like carrion or garbage, but their preferred meal would have to be maggots and grubs from underground and inside rotting logs and such.


Why are snakes platypus's natural enemy?

Because they have been known to kill and eat them.

Earth Sciences

Why is the platypus nocturnal?

Most species of Australian mammals are nocturnal, and this is usually an adaptation over time to help them avoid their main predtaors, which are birds of prey and snakes.

Platypuses are mainly nocturnal feeders, and can usually only be observed at dawn and the in the very early morning, and dusk/late evening. This behaviour is known as "crepuscular".


Are platypuses poisonous?

Platypuses do not have a poisonous bite, but adult males have venomous spurs on their ankles. Apart from several species of shrews and the Cuban solenodon, platypuses are the only venomous mammals.

Male platypuses have a venomous spur on each of their hind legs, through which they can deliver a venom strong enough to kill a small dog, and to cause almost paralysing agony to an adult human. It is possible that a very small child could be killed (though a tiny child would be unlikely to engage in behaviour threatening to a platypus), and it is also possible that the shock of the pain in an unhealthy, weakened adult could well result in their death. Also, platypus venom contains a protein which lowers blood pressure, also inducing shock.

People who have been "spurred" by a platypus report that the pain is strong enough to cause vomiting that may last for days, weeks or sometimes even months. The pain cannot be relieved by morphine and other standard pain-killing drugs. It seems the only way it can be relieved is through anaesthesia of the main nerve from the spur site.

Female platypuses do not have venom, but they are born with spurs. These spurs fall off by the time the young female is about a year old.


How many pounds does a platypus weigh?

When fully grown, platypuses vary tremendously in size, from just 600 grams (1.3 pounds) to 2.4 kg (5.3 pounds). Males are always much larger than females. On average, females are around 800-900 grams (1.8 - 2 pounds) , and males vary from 1.6 to 2.4 kg (3.5 - 5.3 pounds).


How do platypuses protect themselves from predators?

Male Platypuses have ankle spurs on their hind legs through which they can dispense venom composed largely of defensin-like proteins (DLPs), unique to the Platypus. This venom is powerful enough to kill smaller animals, and to cause agonising pain to humans.

Platypuses also dig burrows into riverbanks. These burrows are only large enough for smaller predators to enter, but they do not provide protection from snakes.


How many eggs does a platypus lay at a time?

A platypus lays between one and three eggs at a time, with the average being two. Females lay their eggs just once each year.

Animal Behavior

When the platypus is born do its parents take care of it?

Platypuses are not born; they are hatched, as the platypus is one of just two types of egg-laying mammals.

The female platypus takes very good care of its young for several months until they are weaned. The young sometimes stay with the mother as a family group until the next breeding season.


Do platypuses breath through their lungs?

well ya they have lungs as humans


Is a platypus the only Marsupial that lay eggs?

The platypus is a monotreme, not a marsupial and there are just 2 species of monotreme mammals. As well as the platypus, there is the long-beaked echidna and the short-beaked echidna. These are the only known monotremes.

Cryptids and Legendary Creatures

Do platypuses live in North America?

No. Platypuses are found only in Australia's eastern states. They are endemic to Australia, including the island state of Tasmania.


Do platypuses live anywhere else besides Australia?

No: platypuses are endemic to eastern Australia, including its island state of Tasmania. They are found nowhere else outside of Australia.


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