There’s no doubt about it, the platypus is one of the weirdest animals out there. It’s like nature took a bunch of random animal parts and mashed them together to create this funky creature. I mean, seriously – it’s got a bill like a duck, webbed feet like an otter, and venomous spurs like a snake. Oh, and did we mention that it lays eggs? Follow along to learn more about the strange and wonderful world of the duck billed platypus and check out some weird platypus facts that are interesting, fun and even strange!
1. Egg-laying machine
So get this, instead of giving birth to live young, the platypus lays eggs! The weirdest part about this ‘routine’ is the fact that up until 1884 this was not a known thing.
2. Venomous dudes
The guys in the platypus world have venomous spurs on their hind legs. The venom is mainly used by male platypuses during mating season to fight off other males and impress females. Female platypuses also have spurs, but they don’t produce venom. While it won’t kill ya, it’ll definitely hurt like crazy and cause some major swelling.
3. Multi purpose opening
Platypuses have cloacas, a single opening in their body that they use for peeing, pooping, making babies, and laying eggs. Monotremes, like the platypus and echidnas, have this kind of system where everything comes out of the same place. The cloaca, the one-stop-shop for all their business, is located at the base of the platypus’s tail.
4. Electric feel
The platypus has electroreceptors in its bill that let it pick up on electric signals produced by its prey’s muscles. It’s kind of like a built-in metal detector that they use to find their food, you could say it’s the ultimate hunting tool! The platypus can also use electroreception to navigate through murky water and avoid obstacles.
5. Night-loving mammals
The common platypus is usually sleeping during the day so it can clock when nighttime hits. However, the platypuses can be active during the day too, from hanging out in their burrows to swimming around and scouring for food or looking for a mating partner. They’re definitely not the type of animals to set an alarm and rush out the door in the morning!
6. No stomach? No problem
Unlike most animals, the platypus doesn’t really have a true stomach like most other mammals. Instead, it digests its food in its intestines. When a platypus eats, the food is ground up by special plates in its mouth and mixed with saliva. From there, it passes through the esophagus and into the intestines, where it is further broken down and nutrients are absorbed. The intestines of the platypus are quite long and complex, which allows for a more efficient breakdown of the food.
7. Webbed feet for swimming but an awkward walk on land
With its webbed feet, the platypus is a total swimming and diving machine. But have you ever seen a platypus walk? It’s pretty weird! Instead of walking like most animals with their legs directly beneath their body, the platypus moves its four legs from the sides of its body, sort of like a lizard. And because its front feet are fully webbed, the platypus has to walk on its knuckles to protect the webbing from getting tangled up in obstacles.
Interestingly, knuckle-walking isn’t unique to the platypus – gorillas and chimpanzees also use this type of movement.
8. No teeth, no problem
The adult platypus has an alternative way to break down the food it eats. It’s got these hard pads in its mouth that help it crush up its food.
9. Sloppy eaters with a big appetite
Despite being small creatures, platypuses have a pretty big appetite. This translates to eating up to a fifth of their own body weight on a daily basis. When the platypus is eating, it stores food in its cheek pouches before crushing it up with its hard pads. It’s not exactly the most elegant dining experience!
10. They have built-in energy reserves
It has its very own built-in energy saver located in the tail. When food is scarce or during breeding this fatty deposit will serve as extra fuel.
11. Female platypus are nipple-free
Instead of having nipples on their abdomen like most mammals, platypuses have mammary glands that secrete milk onto specialized patches of skin called “milk patches” on their abdomen. The young platypuses then lick the milk off the milk patches.
12. The multi-purpose tail
The platypus’s tail serves several important purposes. It’s used for steering and maintaining balance as the platypus swims through the water.
The tail is also used during courtship displays, where the male platypus will wave it around to attract a mate.
The tail is an important tool for the platypus when it comes to gathering food.
Their tails help them to push off from the bottom and change direction quickly as they swim.
The tail also plays a role in thermoregulation. Additionally, platypuses may use their tails to help establish territory or to assert dominance over other animals. So yeah, quite a vital ‘tool’.
13. One of their ovaries is not functional
Female platypuses have two ovaries at first but only the left ovary will work. This is similar to what we’ve seen in birds.
14. Unique mating
The way that platypuses mate is super unusual. The male clasps the female with his hind legs and fertilizes her eggs with his tail. It’s like a crazy train of love!
15. Weird-feeling and rather small eggs
Platypus eggs have a soft, leathery shell, quite different to what you might expect. Not only that, but compared to the average size of the female platypus, the eggs are rather small.
The duck-billed platypus aka one of the weirdest animals out there, sure knows how to stand out in the crowd. From its egg-laying ways to its venomous spurs, it’s definitely a critter that stands out from the crowd. While it might not be the easiest animal to observe in the wild due to its exaggerated shyness, the platypus is clearly an exciting sight whenever it’s spotted. Hope you’ve enjoyed our weird platypus facts and found at least some interesting and/or even fun to know.
Now that you know how cool a platypus really is how about checking up on our best friend, the dog? Check out the strangest dog names out there (we guarantee you don’t know half of them!)
Are platypus babies called puggles?
Platypus babies are indeed called puggles and they’re freakin’ cute.
What is the most famous platypus ever?
If you’ve ever watched Phineas and Ferb you already know this. Perry the Platypus, the smart and quick on its feet platypus secret agent.