The platypus is an elaborate hoax, a complete fraud.
That’s what the Royal Society originally thought when Captain John Hunter sent a pelt of a platypus back to London. And why shouldn’t they? Just think of the basic description of a platypus: venomous, egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal that manages to suckle its young (commonly known as platypups) without nipples and doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet.
You have to admit that does sound odd if not completely unbelievable. But that’s not the only odd thing about the platypus. In fact the more we learn about it the stranger it becomes.
(If you’re interested in seeing a platypus in the wild I’ll share an insider’s tip with you at the end of the list.)
13 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Trust A Platypus
1. Don’t let that duck bill fool you, the platypus is one of the few venomous mammals. A male platypus has a hollow spur inside both its hind legs that produces venom. The venom is strong enough to kill a small dog, or cause excruciating pain in an adult human. Female platypuses also have spurs but do not produce any venom.
2. The platypus is a carnivore. They spend an average of 12 hours a day looking for food and are able to consume their own body weight in a 24-hour period! On an average day they consume 20% of their own body weight.
3. A platypus will growl at you if you disturb, surprise, or just simply annoy it. So please keep your voice down if you happen to see one out in the wild. And no, they do not quack.
4. You might not guess it but a platypus has acute eyesight. Even so they swim with their eyes shut and use the electroreceptors located on the bill to locate its prey. Just make sure it isn’t you!
5. Platypups are born with teeth! Don’t worry they can’t bite you. Why? Because at an early age their teeth drop out leaving rough plates with which to grind their food.
6. Though the female platypus has two ovaries only one is functional. Why have two if you’re only going to use one? Another interesting note: Platypus eggs are not like birds eggs with a hard shell but more similar to a reptilian egg with a leathery exterior.
7. The platypus has TEN sex chromosomes as compared to most other mammals that have only have two (XY). The mechanism of sex determination of a platypus is unknown as they lack the mammalian sex-determining gene SRY.
8. The platypus genomic sequence has both reptilian and mammalian elements plus two genes previously only found in birds, amphibians, and fish.
9. A female platypus is able to suckle its young by secreting milk through pores in the skin, which is then collects on top of the mother’s fur for the young platypus to feed on. Yep, that’s right. No nipples.
10. It is the ONLY living animal of its family (Ornithorhynchidae) and genus (Ornithorhynchus). All others only exist in the fossil record.
11. The body temperature of a platypus is lower than most other mammals about 32 °C (90 °F). This perhaps accounts for it cool demeanour.
12. The average lifespan of a platypus is 12 years though in captivity they have been known to live for 17 years.
13. Thankfully the platypus is in no immediate danger of extinction but they are very sensitive to habitat disruption caused by pollution, dams, and irrigation. If you are out in the Australian Outback looking for a platypus, please pick up after yourself. As they say in Australia, don’t be a Tosser.
Are you interested in seeing a platypus out in the wild during your trip to Sydney?
The video above is of a platypus I saw back in mid-August 2011 at the small lake next to the Jenolan Caves entrance.
I had gone up to the Blue Mountains with a tour group to explore the Jenolan Caves. A few years ago I had heard that people have seen a platypus in the lake but never thought that I would have the chance to see one myself. Platypuses are very shy and mostly active at night.
I highly recommend picking up something to eat at the Jenolan Caves Café then taking it down to the lake and eating there. The lake itself is a beautiful shade of blue, calm and quite.
I happened to see the platypus in the video above swimming around the lake being very active. I was so surprised that I actually dropped my sandwich in the lake and had to fish it out. Unfortunately I didn’t get the best video that day since I was unprepared. If you happen to see a platypus while you’re there and get some pictures or video please let us know. I would love to see it!