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One of the strangest animals that God created was the platypus. It lives in eastern Australia near waterways.
The platypus spends much of its time in the water. The platypus has brown, beaver-like fur which water can’t penetrate. Twisting this way and that, it uses its beaver-shaped tail, which is also covered with fur, as a rudder. The tail is also used to store body fat. The back feet are used for steering and the front for propelling.
The adult male platypus is three times larger than the female and has poisonous spurs on its hind legs. It is thought that this spur is used in the springtime breeding season in territorial disputes. The platypus has five toes on each of its webbed front and back feet. When the platypus walks, it folds back the web on its front feet to reveal its claws, giving it a better grip.
In the early morning and late afternoon, the platypus leaves its burrow to feed on small water animals such as worms, shrimp, and insect larvae. It finds its prey by sensors in its leathery duck-like beak. It surfaces often to breathe and to chew its meals.
The platypus is a monotreme. The female lays two small eggs and incubates them between her tail and abdomen for approximately two weeks. Unlike most mammals, the female platypus has no nipples. The babies feed on milk that oozes onto the mother’s abdomen. The young are weaned between four and five months of age.
Platypus fossils have been found in Australia, and a fossilized platypus tooth was found in South America in 1991. When the first platypus arrived in England in the 1700s, the scientists who examined the specimen thought it was a fraud. In fact, they thought a taxidermist took the parts from several animals and mounted them on a body of another animal. However, the platypus is real and a marvelous creation.
Monotremata • Ornithorhynchidae • Ornithorhynchus anatinus
Weight: 4-1/2 pounds (2 kg)
Length: 21–22 inches (55 cm)
Life Span: 10 years
Special Design Feature: The platypus was created with sensors in its leathery duck-like beak to find its food.
Did You Know? The platypus is a monotreme or egg-laying mammal.