Platypus Pictures

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Platypus Photos Showing This Australian Mammal That Lays Eggs

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The Platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, is an unusual semi-aquatic animal resembling a beaver, but with a duck-like bill, found in rivers and streams of eastern Australia and Tasmania. Like the echidna, it is a monotreme, which is the order of mammal that lays eggs and possesses the sense of electroreception. To add to its mystery, it is also on the short list of mammals that are venomous, as the male can sting an enemy with venomous spurs located on its hind feet. Its image is featured on the Australian 20 cent coin, and perhaps more famously, it appears as a popular character, Perry, in the animated Disney Channel cartoon series, "Phineas and Ferb.' The platypus is sometimes referred to as the Duck-billed Platypus, and the plural of platypus is platypuses, though some use the singular form for plurals as well.

The male platypus averages 50 cm (20 in) in length, with females being a bit shorter. Maximum weight is about 2.4 kg (5.3 lbs). Its body temperature, 32 degrees C (90 degrees F) is 9 degrees Fahrenheit lower than that of most placental animals. It has thick brown, layered fur that traps air close to its body for keeping it warm in cool water. Its tail is flat like a beaver's, and serves as both a rudder and for storing energy reserves. Its feet are webbed, and the hind feet feature a spur on each ankle that can deliver painful venom, produced by males only, to anyone who attempts to handle it. Its rubbery snout is shaped like a duck's bill and is used for digging in muddy river bottoms.

The platypus forages for food in the water and dives for about 30 seconds at a time. using its webbed front feet only for propulsion. It feeds on shrimp, crayfish, worms, insects and insect larvae. it stores its food in its cheeks until it can surface to eat. Like otters, it has a high metabolism and must eat about 20% of its body weight each day. At least 12 hours per day are spent feeding, mostly from dusk into the night, as they are primarily nocturnal. When not feeding, they are in their burrows which they dig in the muddy riverbanks just above the waterline, and often in crevices between roots of trees.

The platypus is a monotreme, the order of animals that lays eggs, distinguishing it from marsupials and placental animals, which give birth to live young. The platypus and the four species of echidna are the only extant species in this order. Platypus breeding takes place between June and October. The female platypus has two ovaries, but only the left one functions. Two leathery eggs (but sometimes one or three) are laid in the burrow and are incubated by the mother for about 10 days before they hatch. Babies are blind and lack fur. They lap milk through pores in their mother's skin, as the platypus lacks teats for suckling. The young feed on the mother's milk for up to 4 months, after which they exit the burrow and forage on their own.

Besides egg-laying, monotremes are notable for having electroreception, the ability to locate prey from the electrical impulses given off when an organism moves its muscles. Electroreception is universal among sharks and rays, but only found in monotremes among mammals. Platypus electroreceptors are located in the skin of the platypus's bill. With these electroreceptors, in combination with their mechanoreceptors, the platypus can sense the direction of prey. The side to side sweeping motion the platypus makes as it skims the river bottom allows it to calculate direction as impulses become alternately stronger and weaker.

The platypus was once hunted for fur in Australia, but is now protected throughout its range. Natural predators are snakes, hawks, owls, eagles, crocodiles and goannas (large predatory lizards). Introduced red foxes are suspected of preying on platypus young. They are vulnerable to pollution, accidental capture in nets, and to disruption of rivers caused by irrigation systems and dams. The IUCN Red List reports their conservation status as Least Concern, as they are in no immediate danger of extinction. The platypus is not easily bred in captivity, though progress is being made in captive breeding.

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Picture of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, endemic, freshwater creek, Atherton Tablelands, Northern Queensland, Australia, South Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 082259

Stock photo of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, one of the two animals in the order Monotremata. It is the only member of the mammal family Ornithorhynchidae. Australia.

Picture #: 061771

Image of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, endemic, freshwater creek, Atherton Tablelands, Northern Queensland, Australia, South Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 082260



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