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Platypus and echidna

Platypus swimming in a Tasmanian streamPlatypus swimming in a Tasmanian stream The platypus lives in rivers and lakes across eastern Australia and Tasmania. It has webbed feet, a broad flat tail, dense, brown fur and a broad, rubbery, duck-like bill which it uses to probe for food—worms, shrimps, insect larvae and crayfish—on the muddy bed. It lives in a water burrow dug out of the river bank. Instead of giving birth to live young, as almost all other mammals do, the platypus lays eggs. 

Platypus swimmingPlatypus swimmingClick to play video


Their young are born inside soft-shelled eggs. These hatch after a few days, and the under-developed young are suckled (fed on milk) until they have developed fully. The newly hatched young are blind and hairless, and are fed by the mother's milk. The platypus has no teats; instead, milk is released through pores in the skin.



The platypus belongs to the group of mammals known as monotremes. These are the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young, as marsupials and placental mammals do. There are five species of monotremes: four species of echidna and the platypus. They live only in Australia and New Guinea.

Echidna foragingEchidna foraging


The platypus must eat about a fifth of its own weight each day.

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