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Weird Animals - the Platypus

Updated on May 29, 2011

Is this the face only a mother could love?

How would you spell more than one of me?
How would you spell more than one of me?

"Do you think God gets stoned? I think so ... look at the platypus!" - Robin Williams

I've never seen a platypus. I may not ever see one. But I can state without a fuss. I'd rather see than be one.

You have probably never seen a platypus in a zoo, because most zoos don't have them. But they do exist in eastern Australia including Tasmania. They are unique mammals who lay eggs instead of giving birth to live baby platypusses - or is it platypusi? (That reminds me of the old joke about a zookeeper who wanted to order two of these animals but didn’t know how to phrase the plural form in his request. So he sent a letter to the platypus breeder and stated: “Please send me a platypus. And by the way, send me another.”


Two "platypussies"
Two "platypussies"
Is swimming allowed here?
Is swimming allowed here?

The platypus (Greek for flat foot) is also called the duckbill and belongs to the most primitive group of living mammals (Ornithorhynchus anatinus meaning duck-like). The echidna or spiny anteater is the only other egg-laying mammal.

The platypus is weird not just because it is a mammal who lays eggs, but because of its bizarre appearance. Imagine a small animal that weighs about four pounds with its head, body and tail broad and flattened, and covered in thick, dark brown fur. But its snout looks like a soft, rubber-like duckbill and it has no teeth - just ridges used for crushing food. It has tiny eyes and no external ears.

The five-toed feet of the platypus are webbed like a duck but here is a fact you may not know. The male platypus has a hollow spur on his heel that is connected to a poison-secreting gland. The female has this spur, too, but it falls off within her first year. How venomous is the platypus' poison? It can kill small animals including dogs. The poison is only produced during breeding season so scientists believe it may be used for males to assert dominance over one another.

The female platypus is weird in another way - she does not possess nipples so in order to feed her young she secretes milk through pores in her skin. The milk collects in grooves on her abdomen where the babies can lap it up.

The platypus makes its home on the banks of streams, lakes and swamps and it possesses a special talent for catching prey. There are electro-receptors in the skin of its "duck-bill" that help it to locate fish and other prey while it is under water.

It needs all the help it can get because the platypus closes its eyes, ears and nose completely while it is digging around in the bottom of the stream for its dinner. They can hold their breath only for about half a minute so they store what they catch in cheek pouches (like chipmunks) until they can dine on the surface or land.

Animals are fascinating - probably because we all are animals, human animals. If you enjoy reading about weird animals, please check out my other "weird" animal hubs.

© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So ."


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    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, ps. If you found platypusses fascinating, then you are my kind of hubbuddy. We don't see them in our zoos, so we often find them weird. The poison stash in the male species is one of the singular attributes that some folks may consider strange. But like you, I find them very interesting, even as their mother would describe them, cute.

      Angels backatcha, m'dear.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This should be called 'everything you wanted to know about the platypi or platypusses or whatever but were afraid to ask'. I learned a lot about these little critters I did not know especially about the secret stash of poison they carry. I have always found them fascinating just because they are 'weird'...maybe that says something about me, o, my. Thanks for sharing this with us.. .Sending Angels to you and yours.. :) ps

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      You are absolutely correct, Weldon. Right on!

    • profile image

      Weldon 5 years ago

      The plural for platypus is platypi not platypuses

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      That's an interesting remark, rebecca. How do you know? Every platypus (one) I've seen has looked scrupulously clean.

    • profile image

      rebecca 6 years ago

      it smells yecky

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Docmo, for taking the time to discover my 10 Weird Animal hubs and finding them as interesting as I did.

      And you are spot on. The collaboration of a male and female platypus is almost certain to produce platypussy progeny.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 6 years ago from UK

      Good one. It the boy platypus and the girl platypus get on, do we get platypussies?

      drbj, you are a dab hand at collating interesting hubs, and this is no exception, loving the whole weird animals theme!

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      If you start with one boy platypus and one girl platypus, nicomp, I guarantee you will soon have a house full.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I want this pet. I want a house full.

    • Simple Tim profile image

      Simple Tim 7 years ago

      ,) its our secret then drbj

      ...pleasure visting you..would do it it more often if I could clone myself to get everything I need done in a day.See you soon.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Ah, Tim, you are waxing poetic and 'tis a pleasure to read your noble words. I am fond of the platypus, too, and between us we will let the world see how adorable they really are.

      Thanks for visiting and your literate comments.

    • Simple Tim profile image

      Simple Tim 7 years ago

      I think the platypus is adorable! I also think its as perfect as we are bulit -but for its own purpose and the time when it was created. Who are we to judge what beauty is? Is it really something you see? or is it contained in the way in which we interact and relate to fellow human beings and animals and plants in the world around us!

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      I agree, kal, now you and I and the platypus' mother all have the same opinion. The platypus is "cute."

      And I don't think you are weird at all but someone with an inquiring mind and personality. Thanks for stopping by.

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      That has got to be one of the coolest animals ever! I saw a stuffed version of that in a museum. I wish I could see one in person. Call me weird (I am) but I think it's kind of cute. Good Hub!

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 8 years ago from south Florida

      I had the "mostest" fun researching this unbelievable and somewhat adorable weird creature. Thanks for your comment. Will be adding other hubs. Have you seen my newest on the aye-aye and the axolotl? Keep hubbing.

    • bayareagreatthing profile image

      bayareagreatthing 8 years ago from Bay Area California

      Talk about confusing identity! Hey I loved your other weird animal hub- here are the others I told you about

      https://hubpages.com/animals/weird-wacky-creatures