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Egg-laying mammal

Egg-laying mammal

The duck-billed platypus is a misnomer in many different ways. When it was first brought to the United Kingdom in the 1700s, people actually thought that someone had sewn a duck’s bill into a mammal’s body. Found only in Australia, it prefers freshwater ponds and streams.


Once the egg hatches, the baby platypus, called a puggle, depends on its mother’s milk that is released through tiny openings on the mother’s belly. Named platypus which means flat feet in Greek, this animal is extremely awkward on land. However, it is an excellent swimmer, thanks to its webbed forefeet that are used as paddles and its broad, flat tail. It has waterproof fur all over its body except for the feet and bill. It stores food in its tail as well as the pouches behind the bill. Its sensitive beak can detect even the faintest electrical signals made by shrimps and crabs underwater. The bill is used to strain its tiny prey from the muddy water. The male uses the sharp, poisonous spike in its rear ankles to defend itself or in fights with other males.


February 2009


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