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Duckbill Platypus

posted: 04/29/14
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Duckbill Platypus
John Carnemolla/Thinkstock

Allow me to introduce Myself: I'm the Duckbill Platypus

Where You'll Most Likely Find Me:Lakes, rivers and streams in Eastern Australia

What I Like to Eat: We are "bottom-feeders" which means we consume small crustaceans, larvae, small fish and worms from the floor of lakes and streams for our meals.

Betcha Didn't Know This About Me: When you look at us, often times you'll have to do a double take to figure out exactly what we are. We are mammals that look like a collage of three animals inside one body. Some say our broad, flattened tails make us look like beavers. Others say our bills and webbed feet give us the appearance of ducks. While there are those who say the size and shape of our bodies and fur make us resemble otters.

Swimmers: We are extremely proficient divers and swimmers and use our webbed feet to paddle through the waters and our partially-webbed hind feet and tail to steer. Even though we are mammals, we are aquatic creatures and love spending most of our time getting wet. We have to be great swimmers because we find our food delicacies underwater. Our own bodies are designed to prevent us from drowning with folds of skin that cover our eyes, ears and nostrils while underwater.

No Teeth: We don't consume our food like typical mammals because we don't have teeth. Yes, we are born with teeth, but lose all of them at a very young age so we use our bills to feed. We store food in pouches in our cheeks and it stays there until we swim to the surface to begin eating. Gravel bits help us mash up our food and chew our meals.

Lay Eggs: We are one of only two mammals on the planet that lay eggs instead give birth. The term for mammals that lay eggs is monotremes. The other mammal is the echidna. Female platypuses can lay one to three eggs at a time. When they hatch, the young babies suck milk from their mother's mammary glands just like mammals.

Venom: Male platypuses have two small horny spurs on each hind paw. When we feel threatened or are in danger, these spurs release venom strong enough to kill a dog or make a human feel excruciating pain.

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