Platypus

Ornithorhynchus anatinus

About the object

Platypuses seem like mythical creatures. Their bodies are otter-like with brown, water-repellent fur, webbed feet, a flattened tail and a bill, which is similar to that of a duck (hence the name duck-billed platypus). Together with the anteater, they are the only known oviparous mammals. The female lays one to three thin-shelled eggs in a burrow, and incubates them alone for ten to twelve days. The young hatch naked and blind. The mother suckles her young with milk, which is released through pores in the skin. The milk pools in grooves on her abdomen, allowing the newly-hatched brood to lap it up. Only the adult males have venomous spurs on their hind legs. Toxic mammals are extremely rare. The poison spores are used in the mating season in particular when fighting with other males over territory or a female. The venom is not dangerous to humans, but it causes long-lasting, severe pain and swelling. Platypuses live exclusively in the clean freshwater watercourses of Eastern Australia and Tasmania. This solitary, nocturnal mammal is highly skilled at swimming and diving, closing their eyes and ears when doing so. They use electrolocation and pressure sensors on their beaks for orientation, thereby able locate their prey, such as crabs, insect larvae or worms.

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