Australian animals 12 of 12 (Platypus)


When the first kinds of the platypus arrived at the British Museum, the person in charge of the Natural History collection famously suspected it of being a joke, possibly put together by Chinese sailors. After a few more had arrived, it was generally accepted that the species was probably genuine, and so a new category of the mammal came into being. The monotreme. Monotremes are mammals that both lay eggs and feed their young, although in the case of a platypus there are no nipples, simply a patch of milk-producing skin. Apart from the platypus, the only other type of monotreme order is the echidna, which is named after the Greek monster who was the mother of many famous monsters from Greek mythology.

Despite its fame, the platypus is a shy and timid creature that lives in the fresh water on the eastern Australian states of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. It can also be found on King Island in the Bass Strait and on the island of Tasmania. Males are usually around 0.5m in length and the females slightly smaller, around 0.45m.

It´s rare to see a platypus in the wild, but if you do you should leave it alone. Apart from it´s protected legal status, the male platypus possesses a sting on its back legs that is attached to a bag of poison, one of only 3 mammals in the world to have this. The sting itself is not very painful, venom of the platypus is painful indeed, and the terrible pain is said to last for weeks!

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